I'm not sure what the exact definition of oden is but what I do know is that I like to eat it. 😃
The apparent definition is anything thrown into the oden pot and sometimes that seems like practically everything. Depending on the place you and fine all of the following: beef, fish, tofu, squid, octopus, hot dogs, potatoes, seaweed, chicken, dumplings, eggs, radish and I'm sure that's not the end of it.
The picture above is from an oden cart I saw when I was out taking night pictures of cherry blossoms last April. You can find oden all over the place. Most festivals seems to have oden. Most of the ramen carts seem to have oden. There are oden restaurants and many combini have it too.
You can see above that it's a bunch of food sitting in a broth. The broth is steaming hot and and the food absorbs the flavor.
The 7/11 by my apartment has oden and I probably get it once or twice a month. I guess traditionally it's thought of as an autumn dish but they serve it year round. Figuring out the names if this stuff is not so easy so if you happen to know I have a name wrong please send me an e−mail.
I'm told it's made from from fish and yams. That's kind of hard to believe so maybe I have it wrong. It's very very light like someone solidified foam.
This is tofu mixed with chopped veggies and fried then set in the oden pot to soak up the flavors
|Here's the inside of the ganmodoki. You can see the bits of vegetables.|
Fried fish cakes. This stuff is GOOD. Separate from oden this is often sold after it's been fried with mayo at festivals and road stands.
Daikon is called a radish but American radishes are spicy. Daikon is not. It's used more like a potato since it does not have alot of flavor on it's own. They are HUGE. One daikon is bigger than my arm.
A fish meatball. It's good. Trust me.
A hot dog wrapped in satsuma and fried then put in the oden pot.
I wonder when that started doing this.
Here's another collection of oden from a different day.To be honest I always get too much but it's so good and so hard to choose which ones I want that I just have to get alot of them.
These are chicken meatballs. Usually they are served at a yakitori place but after you cook'em you stick'em in the oden pot and they become oden.
The piece in the left is naruto. It tastes like chikuwabu but the shape is different and it's got a pink spiral going through the center.
On the right is ganmodoki. They sell lots of small collections like that. 3 items to a stick.
This is beef. Like the tsukune above this was originally something sold at a yakitori place but has been dropped in the oden pot to become oden.
This is hanpen again. This time it was in a round shape instead of a triangle.
Here are a few more common ones I eat.
I think this is made from squid but I'm not sure. If it is though it doesn't feel like it because the squid has been ground into a fine paste and then remolded into this shape and then deep fried and added to the oden pot.
Chikuwabu is just the Japanese version of a dumpling. Same ingredients, same flavor, different shape.
Konnyaku is called the "devils tongue". It looks funny and if feels a little funny too. Like tough jello but not chewy. It's another item that has no strong flavor but rather absorbs the flavor of the soup.
This is an oden cart. You see them here and there although it's more common to see oden as part of a ramen stand. There's something cool about eating it at a cart vs a restaurant. Kind of like having a hot dog at a hot dog stand.
You don't need to know the names of the items you can just point and the owner will put them in a small plate with some soup and you can chow down.
I recommend you give oden a try. I'm sure some of the things sound a little iffy if you've never eaten them before but try them in the following order and it should be easy.
Some things are really simple. The beef or the tsukune (chicken meatballs) are no different from stuff you've already eaten.
Next try chikuwabu because really, it tastes almost exactly like a dumpling from chicken and dumpling soup. Make sure you say chikuwaBU and not just chikuwa.
After that the hanpen is also easy since the texture is not that different from stuff you are used to. The daikon is also easy since it is just a radish. If you like tofu (or even if you don't) try the ganmodoki. It should also be no problem.
You're next step should be the satsuma age or the chikuwa. Both will have a slightly different texture than what you are probably used to. They are both delicious though.
And finally, at least from the stuff above, try the konnyaku. It's probably the most different from anything you've eaten before.
In no time you'll be craving oden just like me. 😉