Oden is a hot-pot type of dish. Many different kinds of foods are simmered in broth. There are usually dumplings, fish meatballs, fried tofu, a hard gelatine-like food called konnyaka, a type of seaweed called konbu, boiled eggs, and daikon radish. Karashi, which is hot Japanese mustard, goes well with oden.
► Q：Where can you get oden?
► A：Generally oden is a winter dish, like nabe. In winter, most convenient stores have a pot of oden. You pick the ingredients you want from the pot, put them in a container, and take them to the cash register.
Chikuwa is like a fish sausage. It is shaped like a stick with a hole in the middle. It is white, and the outside is browned with flame. The name chikuwa means "bamboo ring." The origin of the name is the shape which resembles bamboo.
Chikuwabu is a long white dumpling. You make it by mixing wheat flour and water and steaming it in a stick shape.
Hanpen is a kind of fish sausage, too. It has the same ingredients as chikuwa plus yams, and is a different shape. It’s lighter and softer than chikuwa. The original shape is squarish, but usually it’s cut into triangle shapes for oden.
Ganmodoki is tofu mixed with grated yams and other vegetables, and fried in a round shape. It’s browned on the outside and very tasty.
Konnyaku is made from a plant called a “konnyaku potato.” Konnyaku looks like very firm gelatin. It has almost no flavor, but it absorbs the flavor of the oden broth. It’s known as a healthy low-calorie food.
Shirataki is noodle-type konnyaku. You’ll find it in sukiyaki, too.
Daikon is a kind of vegetable. A whole daikon looks like a huge white carrot. If you eat it fresh, it might taste a little sharp, but when cooked, it has a mild taste.
Tsumire are fish meatballs. Meatballs made of chicken are called tsukune, which are also common in oden. You can mix vegetables and mushrooms into the meatballs, too.