I already said I love Japanese food. But in my previous blog, I left out mentioning something I tried when I stayed in Japan.
I got introduced to Oden, a Japanese hot pot, when I went to Shizuoka prefecture. After a visit to the tea museum, an official from the prefectural government invited us to try eating at an oden shop. Together with the group I was with, we were led to a small alley where there are oden-ya—small restaurants (or eateries) serving this specialty.
After promising to try the oden, we headed back to our hotel. It’s a good thing the oden-ya is just walking distance to where we are staying. After taking a quick nap, I followed my friends to the shop. They went ahead of me–so eager to try.
When I arrived they were already treating themselves with oden fare! With sausages, mushrooms, boiled eggs…I can’t distinguish some of those in the pot. The store owner immediately asked what I would have. Even though I don’t understand the language, I can fairly tell what he’s saying. Well, when it comes to food, it really is a universal “language.” 😛
Personally, this oden gave me somewhat a familiar feel, like it’s very Filipino yet it isn’t. You see, just as Pinoys go for street foods like kwek-kwek (eggs dipped in orange batter), adidas (chicken feet), isaw (chicken intestine), chicken skin and the like, Japanese turn to this as their version of a comfort, street food.
Judging from the looks of our host, I knew this is going to be interesting…
Basically, the ingredients of this dark Japanese stew can be hard-boiled eggs, beef tendons, sliced carrots, mushrooms, potato, fish cakes, tofu, and sausage. These items are skewered and soaked in a boiling dark stock. The stock itself is made of beef broth and dark sweet soy sauce.
While I started to eat my fish cake and sausage, our host had a fun time telling us that the soup stock he was using was already 20 years old! Was that right? Did I hear him right?
Our funny host went on to explain that this is actually his secret to having the best oden because using the same stock (and refilling it when the need arises) helps maintain that signature flavor his shop has always aspired for.
So that explains why there’s this strong umami taste. It’s actually nice. Plus, our host mentioned that he know some Pinoys in the area frequenting his shop. Too bad, I didn’t get to meet one. I would have wanted some good conversation with a fellowman. I’m already feeling the pangs of homesickness.
Afterwards, to break the ice, we had a raw beef liver challenge!
I did not dare try it…
Anyway, it was still fun. Thanks to our Japanese hosts and friends, we had a really good time experiencing Japanese food culture…
And the smile on our faces is proof…