Imagine biting into a pillowy soft interior surrounded by a delightfully crispy yet sticky sweet shell. Sounds good, right? Well if you’re in Japan, you’re in luck!
Sweet potatoes have recently received a lot of popularity in the US over the past few years. What was once overlooked as just a holiday dessert has now become very prominent in a variety of dishes. Supposedly healthier than a regular potato, sweet potatoes are now seen as an alternative to conscientious eaters. Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but either way, it is nice to see a wider variety of food in our palette! When I saw that sweet potato fries had gone all the way to hit the menu at a fast food restaurants, I realized just how mainstream this craze was getting, and for good reason!
If you like the taste of sweet potato fries, you are going to love the Japanese version of them. While sweet potatoes have only recently been popular here, they have been a favorite of the Japanese for years. Daigaku Imo, meaning “University Potatoes”, are just one of many dishes featuring Japanese sweet potatoes. Cheap and very filling, these potatoes have been popular among college students since the early 1900s, hence the name! They are often served at school festivals in the fall since they are a great street food to sell. These are one of my favorite ways to enjoy sweet potatoes, so please give it a try! And if you can’t find Japanese sweet potatoes which have a purplish skin and yellow inside, don’t worry, you can substitute the orange variety instead!
This recipe might be a little intimidating since it involves frying, but frying doesn’t have to be this huge ordeal. Anyone can fry things in the kitchen, it doesn’t need a huge pot and gallons of oil. All you need is a small pot, enough oil to cover the food, a utensil to get the food out of the pot, and paper towels drain the food. It might seem scary at first, but really it’s not that hard. For more tips on how to keep frying healthy, check out my post here.
Recipe – Candied Sweet Potatoes:
– Scrub the sweet potato then cut it into big chunks. You can remove the skin, but it’s traditionally left on for color.
– Put the cut pieces into cold water to remove excess starch. Let soak for a few minutes, then drain, rinse with fresh water and pat dry with a towel.
– Prepare the sauce by mixing the honey, sugar and soy sauce in a small pan over medium heat. Stir until it is blended and has a syrup consistency. The sugar will bubble but take care not to let it burn! Remove from heat and set aside.
– Heat the oil over medium high heat in a deep pot. Add the potatoes then fry for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, stirring every so often so they don’t burn.
– Remove the potato from the oil and drain briefly on the paper towel to remove excess oil.
– Return the syrup to a burner and turn it on to a low heat. Once the syrup has warmed up, add the potato to the syrup then stir to coat.
– Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and enjoy! They are best when piping hot, but don’t worry if you can’t eat them right away, they are quite delicious cold too. Plus, the honey helps the pieces from clumping together as it cools!