Friday, 18 December 2009

yam is yum


Potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams... All are familiar root vegetables in Japan too, but my favourite is “yamaimo” literally meaning “mountain yam”.

Yama-imo (or called yamato-imo locally) is a fist-shaped yam which has been consumed in Japan since its pre-historic period. To fully enjoy the extreme stickiness as well as soupiness in texture, we often “grate” the yam, a bit diluted with dashi (fish broth) and traditionally eat it pouring over boiled rice mixed with barley. The yam is digestible enough to be eaten in raw, thus, plays a supporting role in need of another quick savoury in the kitchen. Nice.

Cooked yamaimo is also tasty as represented by “isobe-age” (deep-fried yamaimo wrapped with dried seaweed), one of popular menus served in “izaka-ya”, a Japanese gastronomic pub. Though I like the flavour myself, my family finds fried seaweed smells fishy, so the following recipe is my twist for minimalists. No matter who you are, that’s easy-peasy to cook.

PAN-FRIED YAMAIMO NUGGETS

* Makes around 15
150g yamaimo (available in a Japanese grocery. Frozen? I don’t approve, really)
Vegetable oil
Salt or soy sauce, to serve

1. Peel yamaimo and soak it in lightly-vinegered water for 10 minutes to eliminate the bitterness.

2. Grate the yam in a bowl. I don’t recommend using a food processor because the yam gets watery. Go with a hand grater for this small portion.

3. Take a teaspoonful of the yam dough, then place it on a tray. Repeat with the remaining dough until you have around 15 pieces. This is definitely a two-teaspoon job as the grated yam is so sticky to handle with a single utensil.

4. Heat the generous amount of vegetable oil in a frying-pan. When the oil is hot, drop the pieces on the pan with an oiled spoon (or spoons), and fry them turning a couple of times. When they’re browned and crisp, lift them out of the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

5. Serve straight away, accompanied by salt or soy sauce.

Tips:
1. Don’t skip the process of #3. To avoid burning, the dough should be neatly divided before frying.
2. The cooked yam gets rubbery when cool. Serve while hot!

You’ll enjoy the dual texture: elastic inside yet crispy outside. Plus, it tastes like a freshly-made rice crackers. This yam is real yum. No joke.



FYI, on this photo is “yamaimo”, usually available in vacuum-packed at a supermarket. We also have “naga-imo” (long yam), which not only sounds but also looks similar with yamaimo. Being more watery as well as lighter, it’s good to be eaten in julienne.

4 comments:

shizuokagourmet said...

Dear Friend!
Greetings from Shizuoka!
Thank you so much for changing your comment box!
Coicindentally I've started a series on taro/sato imo!
Cheers,
Robert-Gilles

the lacquer spoon said...

Luckey to have a variety of taros, yams and potatoes available here. どうぞ良いお年を!

aromes said...

I will try reproducing it

the lacquer spoon said...

Dear aromes,
Thanks for your comment. It'll sooth your stomach after the festive period :) Happy New Year!

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