The first thing you’ll probably notice in any convenience store in Japan is a rectangular divided pot filled with strange looking ingredients. At first glance, this is not a pleasing sight. But ask any Japanese what their go-to convenience store meal is in winter and most will probably respond with “oden”. There appear to be some regional variations in flavor and ingredients but these are minute. However, when you wish to buy oden you might be confused with what to pick. So here we’ll introduce five ingredients used in oden that are not usually found in other countries.
Konnyaku is made from konnyaku potato also known as the “devil’s tongue.” It’s rubbery and has a distinct flavor and texture. Since it has a sponge-like absorbency, its perfect to add in stews and is considered to be great for diets as it is low in calories and high in fiber.
Shirataki literally means white waterfall. The noodles are thin, translucent and gelatinous as they are made from konnyaku.
Hanpen is usually triangular or round made using fish or meat paste, has a mild flavor and is unbelievably soft in an oden soup. Sometimes, you might also find fried hanpen.
Another thing similar to hanpen is chikuwa or yaki-chikuwa. These are tube-shaped fish cake pastes that are soft and spongy. Yaki means grilled and this is a cool addition to your bowl of oden.
Mochiiri Kinchaku もちいりきんちゃく
These look like little pouches and are made using fried tofu. Usually there will be a stuffing of a mochi (rice cake). These are delicious and a little more expensive than the other ingredients. Sometimes there is an egg inside these pouches and its called “Tamagoiri Kinchaku.”
This is basically wheat gluten, looks like bread and when in an oden it tastes like croutons.
Oden on sale in summer! 70 yen!!
Since oden is mostly eaten in winter, in summer, some stores might sell them for a slightly cheaper price.
Usually each piece that goes into your bowl of oden costs 100 yen but in summer this is slashed down to 70 yen. If you buy 7 ingredients, you can use a 500 yen coin making it a one-coin meal.
If you’re a foodie then despite of how weird oden looks, do give it a try!!