Sweet Potatoes and Daigakuimo, A Tasty Vegetable Turned Tastier

By Donnie | Japanese Culture

Satsumaimo-Japanese sweet potato. OISHII!!

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get as fit as I possibly can before Obon rolls around. I’d like to go to a nice beach in Japan and be super-ripped. Why? I don’t really have an answer. I know I enjoy exercise, and I figured getting as ripped as possible at least gives me a goal to shoot for (it might also be good for landing some cool modeling gig in the future).

One of the big challenges with that is that I absolutely adore all things sweet*: chocolate, gummy bears, cakes of all kinds, caramel, ice cream, Jelly Belly jelly beans, and the list relentlessly goes on. So decided this week to kick off a plan to rid myself of most of the sugars in my diet, even switching out some of the fruits I eat and replacing them with vegetables. I do give myself a free day to keep from going crazy, but just doing it for a few days in a row already feels amazing.

*thanks for the brownies last week, Marisa-chan 🙂

As a result of the diet I find myself craving sugar sometimes, and I have really started to develop a severe liking for that healthy, yet sweet-tasting vegetable, the almighty SATSUMAIMO (さつまいも/薩摩芋/sweet potato)**.

**There is also a katakana, loan-word pronunciation for sweet potato as well スイートポテト. It sounds like “Sue-wee-toh po-tay-toh.” Don’t you just love katakana? 🙂

I am devouring these things! They are sooooo good to me. I try to eat them within the confines of a balanced meal plan, but sometimes if I feel the urge to snack, I’ll eat one of these and a cookies and cream protein shake (praises be for protein powder that doesn’t taste like it came out of my toilet). I like to think my love for sweet potatoes is a healthy addiction. I hear that sweet potatoes are high in fiber and can be considered a healthy carbohydrate source.

One reason for the cravings is the way I’ve been eating lately. There is another reason though. At my elementary school, sometimes after the kids have gone home, there is a staff member that makes food and other treats for the staff to eat while they’re working after school. Her food is the bomb! Lately she has been cooking sweet potatoes for everybody. That hot, buttery sweetness really hits the spot on a cold winter day. I’m going to have to pick her brain about how she gets her sweet potatoes to taste so good.

Another reason for the craving is because I haven’t been home in a while, almost a year. Being home means eating homemade sweet potato pie. I wonder if a pie made with Japnese sweet potatoes would be as good. I know the color would be different. Japanese sweet potatoes are purple on the outside and have a yellowish flesh, so instead of an orange pies sweet potato pie, I guess they’d be yellow. I’m sure it’d be awesome, though.

Since we’re talking about sweet potatoes I do have to mention a tasty, but slightly less healthy way they’re eaten in Japan. Have you ever heard of daigakuimo (だいがくいも/大学芋 )? In essence daigakuimo is a candied sweet potato. Generally in a Japanese supermarket (スーパ), somewhere near the sweet potatoes you should be able to find daigakuimo sauce for around 100 yen. Adding this sauce to your sweet potatoes as they cook, creates a caramelized glaze around the sweet potato. Do they taste good? Um…you can bet your sweet potato-eatin’ as* they do!! It’s a way to make an an already great-tasting sweet potato even tastier!! Have you tried them before? I love em’!

Daigaku Imo Sauce. This stuff is the perfect complement to a sweet potato.

Until next time,


Japanese sweet potatoes taste like some food from Mount Olympus that one of the Gods must have dropped by mistake. My guess is it was probably Zeus, guzzling from wine from an enormous golden chalice who knocked over his plate in a drunken stupor. Guess they fell right here in Japan. Thanks, Zeus!

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  • Petaris

    I can tell you from experience that recipes for sweet potatoes from the US and recipes for Japanese sweet potatoes don’t seem to mix well. The taste is just kind of wrong no matter which way you go. :/

    • Donald Ash

      I hear you. The candied sweet potato wouldn’t work nearly as well on a sweet potato in the US.

  • Oh man. I love daigakuimo. I always get it at conveyer belt sushi, or they have little sweet potato logs. Do you know what I mean? Amazing stuff.

    It’s a really good idea to use these as a snack substitute. I am trying to eat better and get “ripped” myself.

    But you know the Japanese think they make you toot. Sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes the music vegetable? Doesn’t really work. So, just be careful who you go on about sweet potatoes with. They may start giggling.

  • Ambrosia = sweet potato pie with marshmellows on top 😡

    • Donald Ash

      Nanami-chan! That sounds really good.

  • Petaris


    Have you ever had sweet potatoe soufflé? Now THAT’S ambrosia! 😀

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