Immediately they came back from school, even before putting down their bags, George and June would come straight into the kitchen to keenly check what I’ve made for afternoon snacks.
Actually both of them often grumble – grumble about me being strict with the kind of snacks they pick and eat. Now they’re older, they even start to argue why are they allowed to have candy, chips or fizzy drinks only when their friends come over for a visit. It’s really cute to see them reacting and bargaining with me in such manner, but sorry kids! lol
You may want to ask – what afternoon snack do I give to them all the time? Like most parents, of course I prefer to give my children something natural and beneficial to their growing bodies. They have sport activities after school everyday, so anything that can help boosting their energy level and sustaining their minds until evening will be good.
Japan’s Daigaku Imo is one healthy snack I recommend.
Literally Daigaku Imo 大学芋 means University (大学) Potatoes (芋). How interesting a name to leave me with a deep impression.
Apparently, this name came about when these candied sweet potatoes were sold outside some Tokyo’s universities during the Taisho Showa period (1900s) and overwhelmingly became famous and popular among university students. Even after having such a long history, Daigaku-Imo hasn’t lost its charm and popularity.
Today, I want to share with you a healthier way to make this traditional Japanese oyatsu おやつ – not only I’ve done away with DEEP FRYING and I also replaced heaps of sugar WITH HONEY!
No more Deep-Frying
Typically, when making Daigaku Imo, sweet potatoes are being deep-fried prior coating with a layer of sugary syrup. I used to shun the thought of making this wonderful dish because of the oily mess I have to clean up each time after frying. Now that I resort to pan-frying – which only requires me 1 Tbsp of oil to do the same job, can you imagine how much easier it has become? Since lesser oil is used, it certainly makes this dish even healthier.
Healthier with Honey
I replace white sugar with honey this time. Honey being a natural sweetener tastes better and able to absorb into our bodies easily. As it contains trace amounts of magnesium, antioxidants and vitamin C, it’s often considered a better choice than refined sugar. Not only acts as an excellent ergogenic aid, it also helps to boost performance during exercise or athletic workouts.
Honey-glazed Daigaku Imo
For 2-3 people
Prep time 65-70 mins, cook time 15-20 mins
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What You Need
1- Wash sweet potatoes and remove end tips
Prepare and set aside a bowl of water. Wash the surface of sweet potato thoroughly with your hands – rub off dirt and pull out tiny roots if any. Then cut off the end tips of the potato.
2- Cut into chunky strips and soak in water
Cut potato into thick slices, roughly 1 – 1½ finger thickness. Next further cut into 3 equal chunky strips as shown. Completely soak them in the bowl of water you’ve prepared earlier for 1 hour or more.
3- Towel dry potatoes and pan-fry
Pat dry potato strips with kitchen towel. Heat up the pan and add oil. Follow by putting in the strips and pan fry under a medium-low heat. Flip the strips over consistently to prevent burning. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside to cool.
4- Caramelise honey and add salt
Using the same pan, remove any oil residue with a piece of kitchen towel. Pour honey into pan and heat up with a medium-low heat. Add in salt halfway through and stir continuously until honey browned and caramelised.
5- Sprinkle sesame seeds and ready to serve
Bring the once-fried potato strips back to hot pan. Blend them evenly with caramelised honey. Once they are all well-coated, scoop them up to a tray. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds on top and they’re ready to be served.
To make sure your sweet potato strips don’t get burnt easily, soak the potatoes well for at least an hour (or even better, overnight). This will completely remove starch from the potatoes and prevent sugars found in the starch from browning before the potatoes are cooked.
Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, so you may want to adjust the amount of honey to your preference.
Honey contains more fructose than white sugar. If you have trouble digesting fructose, honey may cause you to experience gas or bloating, in which case you may want to limit or avoid it completely.
What do I like about this dish?
Even though this is a street snack commonly found only in supermarkets or stalls in festive markets, I’m happy that I can replicate the same taste so easily at home. My children and I love the candy-like texture on the sweet potatoes – it’s a sweet dessert packed with healthy nutrients. We live in Tokyo suburbs and during harvest time, we can get freshly picked sweet potatoes easily. This gives me more reason to make this wonderful snack at home.
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To save/print recipe, click here.