Saturday, December 3, 2011

Daigakuimo 大学芋 Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Mmm, these are fried sweet potato chunks, about to be glazed.

Ahh, sweet potatoes are so great, whether they're steamed, baked, fried, or mashed. This post is about a Japanese sweet potato dish called daigakuimo, meaning "university potato". You know, I didn't come across them while I was over there. I came across the dish through Marc Matsumoto's blog post on them, and since it was fall, it seemed a good time to try them out.

And hey, you can deep fry sweet potatoes? Because pretty much all the results that come up when you search "sweet potato fries" are of the baked variety, I'd assumed there was some problem with frying them. You have to actually search for "deep fried" sweet potatoes to find recipes for the fried variety. Hmm, why are they mostly baked instead of fried?

Well, I made several attempts and think that an approach between Matsumoto's and this one from Setsuko Yoshizuka on is best.

first attempt: didn't fry long enough--instructions could have been clearer. Skin could have crisped more. Still tasty.

Daigakuimo 大学芋

1 lb (satsumaimo*) sweet potatoes, cut into one-inch chunks
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
1-2 tsp sesame seeds
Vegetable oil for frying

  1. Add the sweet potatoes to a wok or pot large enough to fit all of them in one layer. Cover the potatoes in vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Fry until sweet potato chunks all float in the oil and are brown, with a crunchy shell. Flip them while they’re frying to brown on all sides.
  2. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
  3. Mix water, sugar, and soy sauce in a large skillet.
  4. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid begins to thicken, but isn’t too thick yet.
  5. Quickly stir fried sweet potatoes into the sugar sauce and allow sauce to thicken further.
  6. Remove from heat and sprinkle sesame seeds over sweet potatoes.

*so it should be the Japanese satsumaimo that is used in daigakuimo, but of course I don't have easy access to those.

Yoshizuka's traditional version is better for flavor and Matsumoto's simpler for execution. Also, as Matsumoto notes, starting the sweet potatoes in cold oil allows the insides to heat through, while we also don't need to worry about their absorbing much oil since they aren't very porous.

Delicious! Tin foil and tupperware because these were on their way to a potluck.

Following Matsumoto's recipe, which uses honey instead of the sugar/soy sauce mixture; also good.

Hmm, I still need to get around to trying to get baked sweet potatoes right. I've made several attempts before, all ending in varying degrees of failure. But I think I know what's been wrong, ha.


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