Sep 15, 2013

The season of sweet potatoes has come!

Hi everyone. This summer was hotter and longer than ever, but since last week the temperature has gradually begun to drop and we can sleep without air conditioning these days.  Ah, finally!!

Yesterday I really felt that autumn has come when I found beautiful satsuma-imo (sweet potatoes) sold at a nearby vegetable store. The vivid red skin tinged with purple drew attention of many shoppers, including myself, and I could not pass by without getting one bag.
Look what I got. It is Beniazauma, a kind of sweet potato produced mainly in the Kanto area, and very sweet and tasty.

Satsuma-imo is a plant native to South America and is believed to be brought to Japan via China in the 17th century. Easy to grow, it was encouraged to cultivate as a counterpart against famine. Nowadays, it is grown in many parts of the country, but as the name indicates (Satsuma is the ancient name of Kagoshima Prefecture, and imo is potatoes), about 40 percent of satsuma-imo cropped in Japan is from Kagoshima, southernmost area of Kyushu Island.

There are so many types of sweets using satsuma-imo, and I'll introduce you some goodies that I recently ate. 

At this time of year many bakeries start baking their original bread and pastry with this seasonal ingredient, like the photo below. This is "Naruto Kintoki Bread," containing diced naruto-kintoki (a kind of sweet potato) grown in Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture. Natural sweetness of the satsuma-imo goes very well with the fluffy bread sprinkled with sesames. I really liked it!

When I think of sweets using sweet potato, what comes uppermost is this "imo-yokan" of Funawa, old confectioner established in 1905 in Asakusa, Tokyo. I've had it so many times and I always find it good.

The making process is very simple. It includes mushing steamed satsuma-imo, adding sugar and a little bit of salt, mixing it well, putting it in a square mold and chill it. That's all! No synthetic additives such as artificial colors and preservatives are used.

You can easily imagine what it tastes like, can't you? Nothing surprising, but if you like sweet potatoes, it will never disappoint you. Actually, its simple flavor has been long loved by people of all generations. Available at major department stores and airports, not only in autumn but throughout the year.

At last I'll show you my favorite snack food "imo-kenpi," candied strips of satsuma-imo. I have loved it since I was a small child. You can buy it almost anywhere for only  100-200 yen for a bag. In the photo below, they may look like McDonald's french fries, but actually it is totally different. Coated with sugar, imo-kenpi is very hard, crunchy and addictive. Once I start eating, I can never stop, knowing it is relatively high in calories (sigh...).

If you feel like making some goodies at home, I'll recommend you daigaku-imo, literally meaning university potatoes. I heard that this snack goes by this strange name because it was very popular among university students in Tokyo when it was invented in the Taisho Era (1912-1926).  Here's the youtube video that shows how to make it. Enjoy!

From here I'll write in Japanese for Japanese learners.


日本  にほん Japan
ようやく  finally
秋 あき  autumn
先日 せんじつ  the other day
近く  ちかく nearby


早速  さっそく immediately
関東地方  かんとうちよう  Kanto area
採れる  とれる  can be cropped
品種  ひんしゅ  kind
甘い  あまい  sweet


最近  さいきん recently
いくつか some
紹介  しょうかい to introduce


まず first of all
鳴門金時 なるときんとき kind of sweet potato 
ブレッド  bread
角切り  かくぎり  diced
徳島県  とくしまけん  Tokushima Prefecture
パン  bread


舟和  ふなわ  name of the confectioner
ようかん a kind of Japanese dessert
ふかす  to steam
つぶす  to mush
砂糖  さとう  sugar
塩  しお  sult
混ぜる  まぜる  to mix
型  かた  mold
固める  かためる   make it firm
素朴  そぼく  simple
昔  むかし  long time ago


最後  さいご  at last
細く切る  ほそく きる to cut into thin and long strips
油  あぶら  oil
揚げる  あげる to deep fry
表面  ひょうめん  surface
コーティング  to coat
子供  こども  child
お菓子  おかし sweet
スーパー  supermarket
コンビニ convenience store
値段  ねだん  price
一袋  ひとふくろ  a bag
固い  かたい  hard
カリカリ  crispy


大学  だいがく  university
簡単に  かんたんに  easily
作り方  つくりかた  how to make

1 comment:

  1. 優子さん、こんにちは!

    すみません。。。I haven't been to your blog for such a long time, since uni is busy again. ><"

    I got excited about this post because 芋 is one of my favourite foods. ^0^ / It's a very nutritious root vegetable~~ The first time I had 大学芋 was actually in a Korean restaurant here in Brisbane. 私は大学芋がすごいと思う! It has the perfect balance of sweetness and slightly crunchy texture from the syrup.

    Since I like sweet potato a lot, I'm very familiar with what kinds they sell here in Australia now. ^_^ We have the regular オレンジ色芋、purple-skin white-flesh 芋 and white-skin purple-flesh 芋 (you might know it as Okinawan 芋). I love the third type because of its colour when cooked!

    That's another reason why I'd love to go to Japan... it's the land of sweet potato everything! haha~ (Well, in Autumn at least). I've never tried Naruto Kintoki bread, imo-yokan or imo-kenpi before. ^^;;

    Thanks once again for your interesting posts! :)