Taste of Winter: “Oden”
Steaming hot oden, which is vegetables, fish cakes, and other ingredients simmered in broth, is craved in the frigid coldness of winter.
It is said that oden has its origin in tofu dengaku, grilled tofu coated with sweet miso paste, in the Muromachi era. It was called “oden” when the women working at the Imperial Court added the prefix “o” for elegant speech and shortened the word.
Originally oden was simply grilled and skewered pieces of tofu. However, another dish of the tofu simmered in broth with other different ingredients was later invented, which was in turn referred to as “oden” gradually during the Edo era. Records show that the dish was eaten at food stands like fast-food in modern times.
The dish started to be served with the broth in the Meiji era, and it became so popular during Taisho that one speciality restaurant after another sprang up. Oden became commonly served at home as a taste of winter in the Showa era and has become a dish widely enjoyed all over Japan.
The flavor and ingredients differ in each region. Some of the well-known local varieties include Shizuoka Oden characterized by its use of dried fish powder and dark broth, as well as Kanazawa Oden cooked with unusual ingredients, such as akamaki rolled fish cake and fukashi steamed fish paste.