Imagine a steamy hot bowl of soupy stew on a cold winter day? Pure bliss. Yes, thank you Oden, for making the cold so much more bearable.
This humble one-pot dish is typically made from an assortment of tofu, fish cake, daikon (radish) and other ingredients slowly simmered in a light dashi broth. A bona fide comfort food that is affordable and so simple, yet warms the heart as much as it does your body during winter. That is probably why Oden is so well-loved by both the locals and travellers alike.
During winter, oden starts to appear everywhere, from izakayas to streetside vendors and even Japan’s famous convenience stores. Every pot is excitingly different. It is really quite a joy to poke your face near the steamy pot and choose the ingredients you want.
Oden is one of Japan’s oldest winter fast food
Trivia lovers would love this fun fact. Did you know that the origin of Oden stretches way back to around the 14th century? It started off as miso dengaku, a popular winter snack that consisted of skewered tofu grilled over charcoal and topped with miso sauce.
Come 18th century, during the Edo period (1603-1868), there were varieties of ingredients for miso dengaku, such as yum, konjac, eggplant, and so on. And some eateries had the brilliant idea to serve this grilled dengaku simmered in a broth during winter. This eventually evolved into what we know as oden today; a welcoming pot of hot stew that is kept simmering indefinitely, so that anyone can stop for a quick hot snack to warm their bellies.