Japanese sweet potato, known as “Satsumaimo,“ is a staple of the fall and winter diet in Japan. With their hearty yet sweet flavor, they make a great side dish for all kinds of dinner parties. Now that you can find Satsumaimo in gourmet groceries in the West, adding them to the modern table is not just easy. It is a necessity.
Delicious, healthy and preparable in a variety of ways, Satsumaimo is a culinary superstar. With this recipe and video, learn how to prepare a honey butter Japanese sweet potato dish with Satsumaimo that will have your guests begging for seconds.
What Exactly Is Satsumaimo (Japanese Sweet Potato)?
The Japanese sweet potato is different from the American sweet potatoes in several important ways. Inside the red skin, the flesh of this sweet potato is significantly less moist and denser than that of other sweet potatoes. For this reason, many authentic Japanese food recipes call for cubing it before cooking. The flavor of the Satsumaimo is nutty, almost like a chestnut, with hints of caramel sweetness.
It is easy to confuse the Japanese sweet potato with the Japanese Yam, or “Yamaimo“. However, it is a completely different vegetable with different uses in Japanese food culture. Because the Japanese sweet potato is a member of the nightshade family, people usually consume it with the skin still on, and they may roast, bake, steam, boil or stir-fry it.
The History of the Japanese Sweet Potato
The Satsumaimo was brought to Japan from China in the 17th century. It went through several name changes until finally becoming associated by name with the Satsuma region, where it is still widely grown today. Japanese sweet potatoes became especially popular after the WWII period when they were sold by street vendors across the country.