Japan has many foods and treats to enjoy during the cold weather seasons. A classic example is Japanese sweet potatoes that are absolutely delicious when roasted. But did you know that there is another must-try Japanese sweet potato dish?
It’s a honey-glazed sweet potato snack called Daigaku imo, which literally translates to ‘University/College potatoes’. This funny name dates back to the Taisho era (early 1900’s), when shops started selling honey-glazed sweet potatoes near the universities in Tokyo, where it became a big hit among university students as a cheap and cheerful filling treat! Because of its popularity among students, the snack began to be referred to as ‘daigaku imo’.
A HEALTHY SNACK
According to medical experts, Japanese sweet potatoes are gluten-free, have no saturated fats and are a great source of healthy starch and fiber. They are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Because of these health benefits, Japanese sweet potatoes are a popular snack among people who want to lose weight in a healthy way.
WHERE CAN YOU BUY DAIGAKU IMO?
If you are traveling to Tokyo and are interested in trying daigaku imo, you can purchase it along the food shops near Asakusa, which is a must-visit tourist destination that resembles old Tokyo. Asakusa is a food haven that is lined with traditional food shops where you can easily buy daigaku imo and other mouth-watering Japanese street food.
Daigaku imo from a traditional store is made using the best varieties of Japanese sweet potato that are in season. The sweet potatoes are served hot and covered with generous amounts of delicious, sweet honey.
If you are traveling outside Tokyo, you can find daigaku imo in supermarkets, michi no eki (roadside stations), convenience stores, and weekend autumn festivals in small towns. We recommend buying green tea as well – the bitter tea goes perfectly with the sweetness of daigaku imo.
YOU CAN MAKE IT AT HOME!
If you haven’t yet planned a trip to Japan but still want to try daigaku imo, we can help you out! With the right cooking techniques, you can easily make delicious daigaku imo at home. To make this quick and healthy snack, you only need a few basic ingredients: Japanese sweet potatoes, canola oil for frying, honey, sugar, drops of soy sauce, water, and toasted sesame seeds.
Although you can use different varieties of sweet potatoes, the best type for daigaku imo is ‘beni haruka’. This variety of sweet potato is the most popular in Japan because of its soft, creamy texture and sweet flavor.
COOKING TECHNIQUES AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS
When you make daigaku imo at home, you can experiment with different ways of cutting the sweet potatoes to your liking! If you want to cut the sweet potatoes into wedges, you can apply the rangiri method (roll-cutting), by rotating the sweet potatoes while cutting. Make sure to cut into bite-size pieces. Another way to prepare sweet potatoes is to cut them into equal-length sticks like fast-food french fries.
A great technique to achieve the perfect texture of daigaku imo is to deep fry the potatoes. This makes the outside of the potatoes nice and crunchy, and the inside soft and creamy.
A simple way to make the sweet syrup for daigaku imo requires honey and a splash of soy sauce. Honey gives the sweet potatoes a sweet, caramelized flavour. A touch of soy sauce provides umami flavour and gives the sweet potatoes a lovely golden-brown colour. You can also add toasted sesame seeds for some extra flavour and texture!
If you want to try a more creative version of daigaku imo, you can make a parfait! A popular daigaku imo-parfait in Japan is called ‘imo affogato’. To make this dessert, simpy top daigaku imo with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. This is guaranteed to be delicious!
When you plan your trip to Japan, don’t forget to try authentic daigaku imo. You could also surprise your taste buds by making it at home! Eating this traditional sweet snack will surely be a memorable experience for any foodie.
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