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Perfect for the Cold Winter! Five Select Steaming Hot Gourmet Foods to Have in Osaka

If you're traveling in Japan during the cold winter, you'll want to check out information on foods that will warm you up. This article introduces five select "steaming hot gourmet foods" to try in the popular tourist destination, Osaka.

1. Kushi-katsu

Kushi-katsu are bite-size pieces of deep-fried food with batter and breadcrumbs on skewers. They are called "kushi-age" in regions other than Kansai. Kushi-katsu is made with a variety of ingredients, including meat, seafood, and vegetables.

No Double-dipping?! Rules to Follow

There are some rules that need to be followed (with exceptions) when you go to a kushi-katsu restaurant. The tables will have stainless steel containers with sauces to dip the kushi-katsu in, but double-dipping – where you dip the kushi-katsu in the sauce after taking a bite – is a no-no. The sauces are shared with other customers, so double-dipping can be unhygienic. If you didn't get enough sauce the first time, scoop some sauce with the cabbage that is served as a side and drip it over the kushi-katsu.

2. Tecchiri

Tecchiri is a hot pot dish with fugu (puffer fish), which is considered to be high-grade fish in Japan. This dish is referred to as "fugu-chiri" or "fugu-nabe" in other parts of Japan. The ingredients include fugu meat, head and bones, as well as vegetables like Chinese cabbage. The ingredients are cooked in a simple stock made with kombu (seaweed), and eaten with simple sauces such as ponzu and soy sauce, so that the unique texture of the thick and plump fugu meat and its rich flavor can be savored. Once all the ingredients are gone, it is common to add rice and beaten eggs to make a zosui porridge full of fugu flavor!

3. Udon-suki

Next up is another a hot pot dish that is popular primarily in the Kansai region, including Osaka. In this hot pot dish, udon noodles are cooked with a variety of ingredients – such as shrimp, oysters, crab, duck meat, shiitake mushrooms, negi (scallions), and Chinese cabbage – in a light stock made with kombu (seaweed). It is said that this dish was invented at a restaurant in Osaka. The flavor of the soup becomes deeper and more complex with each ingredient that is added, and the udon noodles that absorb the soup also becomes tastier. It is a menu item born from the practical Osaka sensibility of making "good food taste even better, and enjoying it to the last drop"!

4. Oden

"Oden" is another standard winter dish for Japanese people. It basically consists of ingredients such as vegetables, eggs, and seafood simmered in dashi stock, but there are regional variations in the ingredients and seasoning. The two most famous types are the "Kanto-style" oden and the "Kansai-style" oden that’s enjoyed in Osaka. Let's take a look at their differences.

Characteristics of Kansai-style Oden

The flavor and color of the dashi stock is light. The stock is made with kombu and katsuobushi (bonito flakes). It is also lightly flavored with light soy sauce and salt, and then simmered. Some ingredients that are unique to the Kansai region include octopus legs and beef tendon.

Characteristics of Kanto-style Oden

The dashi stock is darker and has a stronger flavor. Once the stock is made (using kombu and bonito flakes), it is adjusted to a sweet and savory flavor with dark soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Some ingredients that are unique to Kanto-style oden include chikuwabu (a tubular processed food made with flour), which has a chewy texture, and hanpen, which is made from fish surimi (paste).

5. Doteyaki

Lastly on the list is "dote-yaki", which is representative of Osaka. It is not high-brow, and it is easily accessible. It consists of beef tendons that have been par boiled, and then simmered slowly on skewers in miso, sugar, mirin, and dashi stock. With the melty soft texture of the beef tendons and the sauce that is thick and rich, but not clawing, it is a perfect dish to have with drinks. It is generally eaten with chopped green spring onions and chili pepper powder.

These dishes are often served at specialty restaurants and izakaya (Japanese pubs) around major tourist sites and train stations in Osaka. Be sure to try them if you are visiting Osaka this winter!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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