"Oden" is a dish which has baked tofu, Satsuma Age (さつま揚げ：deep‐fried minced fish and vegetables), Tsumire (つみれ：fish ball), Konnyaku (Konjac or elephant yam) and radishes, hard boiled eggs etc. in the soup. The soup are cooked from Konbu(昆布：seaweed) and Katsuo bushi(鰹節：Bonito Flakes), and boiled for long hours before it served. In Japan, it is very common as you get it at most of the convenience store. It’s a popular dish during cold winter. This time, we are going to introduce you the history of Oden, and how to eat it!
Oden's name comes from "Dengaku", a stick with the Grilled bean curd“Dengaku(田楽)” is a musical dance which is performed together with drums and flutes during the prayers to get a better harvest after farm planting. Due to the similar shape of “Dengaku” (stick grilled bean curd) with the dance “Dengaku”, they combined the word with “O” (a polite form of word), and abbreviate the words into “Oden”. After that, a new “Dengaku” is founded, in which Bean Curd is topped with miso before grilled. Subsequent to the Edo period, many varieties of Dengaku are founded, such as taro(yam), eggplant and Konnyaku.
Stewed oden was created due the popularity of soy sauce.There are few stories about the changes of the form from "Dengaku" to the oden which we eat currently. One of them is brewed soy sauce was getting popular in Choshi(銚子) and Noda(野田) in Chiba prefecture in the latter Edo period, and the "stewed oden" which flavored with soy sauce taste was created. At first the Oden only came with little sauce, but after the Meiji period, the soup increased and it was spread to the Kansai in the Taisho period. In Kansai (関西or West Japan) it is not called as “Oden” but is "Kantoni(関東煮)".
Oden is a dish in specialty restaurant and hawker stalls in early Showa period but is a home cooked dish in the late Showa Period.In the early Showa period, oden can be eaten at specialty restaurant and hawker stalls, and was seldom to be served at home. After that, Oden's "sauce paste" was released and sold at supermarket. After the product released, anyone can just put in the sauce paste and cook the oden easily, and therefore it started to be popular as a home cooked food. In the 1980s, the “Oden sauce paste” is even started to be sold at convenience store and become a more common food for everyone.
The things I want to know! Oden recipe & how to eat it deliciouslyAfter taking out the Konbu(昆布) and Katsuobushi（鰹節）from the boiling soup, put in the ingredient such as radish and eggs which takes longer time to be braised. Subsequently put in the ingredient such as Hanpen (はんぺん: fish minced and steamed), which is easily to be braised but might crumble easily as well. Next, adjust to lower heat and continue boil it. It is advisable to cut small notches at the ingredient so that the heat could easily penetrates into the ingredients. It is recommended to eat oden with some mustard. In Japan, "Set of warm sake and oden" is a popular combination for us to warm up our bodies especially during the cold winter season.
Of course, Oden is also a very popular dish even among the foreign visitors to Japan. Please try this dish at least once. After that, please share with us your review on Oden!