The Chestnut's Stunt Double

Food & Wine: Japanese Sweet Potato
Japanese Sweet Potato Photo © iStockphoto
By Tina Ujlaki Posted December 03, 2013

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

For years, you could only find dark reddish/purple-skinned Japanese sweet potatoes at Japanese markets, but these beauties have finally started turning up at natural food stores and farmers’ markets at this time of year. When seasonally available, they’re the traditional go-to spuds for tempura, and they’re used to make Japan's most revered shochu as well. If you’ve never tasted one, you’re in for a huge treat: The white flesh, which tends to be slightly drier than that of orange varieties, is often sweeter, but the big surprise is the potato’s incredibly rich, deep chestnut flavor. You can cook them just as you would any other sweet potatoes, but I would start with one that’s simply wrapped in foil (to keep the moisture in) and roasted so you can see how good they really are. Look for potatoes that are hard and heavy for their size, without any signs of wrinkled skin.

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