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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogOden and More: Five Autumn Dishes to Try!

Oden and More: Five Autumn Dishes to Try!

James LauJames Lau
Published Time
Posted on 
August 23, 2023
A bowl of oden, which is a dashi broth based stew.

As the warm embrace of summer makes way for the crisp, cool air of autumn, Japan does a culinary transformation. The colorful leaves set the stage for rich seasonal flavors in the country’s traditional dishes. From hearty oden to delicate custards, autumn in Japan is a time for feasting!

Oden: A Warming Tradition

Imagine a steaming pot filled with ingredients gently simmering in a fragrant broth, creating a soft meal that warms you from the inside out. It’s called oden, a beloved Japanese autumn dish enjoyed for generations. As the air turns crisp and the leaves transform into orange and gold, oden becomes more common on dining tables and at convenience stores across Japan.

A pair of chopsticks picking up a mochi kinchaku tofu bag our of a pot of oden.
Oden is available at many food stands and convenience stores during colder weather. Image via Shutterstock

The ingredients include fish cakes, daikon radish, konnyaku, boiled eggs, and more; soak up the rich dashi broth, combining them with a delicious umami taste. This stew fills your belly and heart, making it an essential Japanese autumn dish. Each bite is like a hug from the inside, and with every spoonful, you’re tasting the history and culture of Japan as the cooler weather sets in.

Seasonal Sake: Toasting to Autumn’s Bounty

Toast to autumn with sake, Japan’s iconic rice wine. It shines during this season, matching vibrant leaves. Breweries craft it meticulously. Autumn sake’s slightly dry, crisp taste complements hearty dishes of the season.

A bottle of sake being poured into a cup. Some people have it with oden.
Sake is a perfect addition for any season! Image via Shutterstock

Sip by sip, feel the artisans’ passion in each drop of rice and water turned into fall’s masterpiece. It harmonizes with the season. Seasonal sake isn’t just a drink; it’s a celebration of harvest and sharing moments. When you lift your cup, you embrace a centuries-old tradition respecting nature and human craftsmanship. It’s more than a drink; it’s a connection to the seasons!

Are you looking to try even more Japanese food this fall? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers the best Japanese snacks, drinks, sweets, and noodles straight from Japan to your door so that you can have a fun summer party at home!

Shinmai: Celebrating New Harvest Rice

As the leaves turn shades of red and gold, Japan welcomes the arrival of shinmai, the freshly harvested rice that marks the best of the harvest season. This young rice, plump and fresh, represents autumn’s abundance. The first taste of shinmai is a delight—its slightly sticky texture and subtle sweetness create uniquely satisfying flavors.

A bag of shinmai or new rice.
Shinmai is the first harvest of a new season. Image via Shutterstock

This rice isn’t just a staple food; it’s a cultural treasure that reflects the deep connection between nature and the Japanese way of life. Whether paired with seasonal dishes or transformed into delectable rice-based treats, shinmai is a reminder of the earth’s generosity. With every grain, you sense the year-long care in farming rice paddies, culminating in a harvest that rejoices in its rewards.

Sanma: Pacific Saury’s Flaky Delight

In Japan, autumn is known for the migration of the Pacific saury, also called sanma. Grilled to perfection and sprinkled with salt, sanma has tender, flaky flesh that melts in your mouth. With a flavor that reminds you of the sea, this fish is a seasonal delicacy that has captured many people across the country.

A plate of steaming Pacific saury fish, or sauna.
When cooked properly Pacific saury is quite the delicacy! Image via Shutterstock

Its distinct fishy taste makes it a beloved autumn dish that brings a taste of the sea into every bite. Sanma provides a delightful blend of textures and flavors that capture the season’s essence. Enjoy it with friends and family or at an izakaya for a cozy meal or a traditional experience.

Matsutake Chawanmushi: Umami Elegance

The matsutake mushroom is a coveted autumn ingredient in Japan, prized for its distinct aroma and earthy flavor. One of the most elegant ways to enjoy this delicacy is through matsutake chawanmushi, a savory egg custard. This dish combines the silkiness of steamed eggs with the umami punch of matsutake mushrooms, creating a fusion of textures and flavors.

Two cups of Matsutake chawanmushi, or savory egg custard with mushrooms on top.
Image via Shutterstock

This seasonal delight is often enjoyed as an appetizer or side dish, showcasing complex Japanese culinary artistry. With each spoonful, you can experience various tastes and textures, a culinary masterpiece that captures the essence of autumn. 

As you savor the rich, velvety custard and the aromatic matsutake, you’re experiencing the beauty of simplicity in Japanese cuisine. Chawanmushi isn’t just food; it expresses art, a skillful balance between ingredients, technique, and a deep respect for the season’s flavors.

Why are autumn dishes essential in Japan?

Japanese autumn dishes show a deep connection between culture, nature, and food. From heartwarming oden to delicate matsutake chawanmushi, each dish tells a story of tradition, harvest, and the joy of seasonal foods. As the leaves transform into red and gold, these culinary delights invite you to enjoy the autumn flavors in Japan. 

So, as the air becomes crisp and the days grow shorter, sit at the table and experience the magic of Japanese food during this enchanting season! Have you ever tried any of these foods? Which one did you like best? Let us know in the comments below!

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