Daigaku imo means university potatoes! The name of this dish is said to have one of two origins, one being rather romantic and the other more pragmatic (and probable).
1) In the early Showa era (1926-1989) a student attending Tokyo University didn’t have enough money to pay his university tuition, so he made this dish and started selling it as a way to raise funds.
2)In the early Taisho era (1912-1926) there was a steamed potato shop near Tokyo University called ‘Mikawaya’. It started selling honey drenched potatoes, which became a big hit with the nearby university students.
Both stories are plausible, but which is the true history of daigaku imo? We may never know! While pondering on the origin of this popular Japanese recipe, why not try it out?
- 2 Japanese sweet potato
- vegetable oil enough for frying (about 3cm deep)
- 4 tbsp sugar (A)
- 2 tbsp honey (A)
- 1 cup water (A)
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
- Wash the sweet potatoes well and chop into chunks – no need to peel the skin. Soak in a bowl of water for a few minutes, then drain and dry well.If you have the time, put them on a paper towel lined tray and leave them aside to dry (preferably in the sun!) for 30 minutes to half a day. The drier it is before cooking, the better the texture after cooking!If you don’t have that much time on your hands (we didn’t!), pop it in the microwave for 2 and half minutes to evaporate a good amount of the moisture.
- Pour about 3cm of vegetable oil in a deep saucepan and heat to 160 degrees C (320 F). Deep-fry the sweet potato chunks in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Remove from oil when lightly browned and place on a paper towel lined tray to drain off excess oil. Remove the oil from the heat.
- Put A in a pot or pan and bring to the boil. Add the fried sweet potato chunks and stir fry until coated, adding soy sauce to taste.
- Transfer the sweet potato to bowls and sprinkle with black sesame seeds, mixing to combine.