Monday, January 21, 2008

Daigoku Imo

I had the fun experience of going grocery shopping with a Japanese friend of mine recently. I was introduced to a whole new world of groceries, particularly in the form of never-ending aisles of miso and a huge section of dehydrated tofu imprinted with cartoon characters. While I didn't care for some of my new purchases, such as egg custard tofu, I was turned on to trying more veggies. So, I'm going to really make an effort to get more Japanese fruits and veggies into my diet...starting with daigoku imo.
Daigoku means "university" or "top level", so this is the ultimate way to eat sweet potatoes. Japan has several varieties of sweet potatoes, ranging from small thin ones with dry white meat to deep pink ones with dark purple meat. Sachiko showed me how to prepare this sweet potato sensation. While it is deep fried and coated in sugar, it's still a vegetable! Enjoy!

Daigoku Imo:
1.) Scrub sweet potato and cut it diagonally and into thin strips.
2.) On low heat, deep fry slices in oil for 8-10 minutes.
3.) While strips are frying, prepare a simple sugar syrup in a large saucepan with 1/2 c. sugar, 1 Tbsp. water, 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce until syrup-y.
3.) Remove strips from oil and mix into syrup in saucepan until well coated. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds!

Enjoy! This is a delicious dish, and the black sesame seeds are awesome. More on those later, but here is some info on sesame seeds for you:

Natural sesame seeds, those that are unhulled, are high in calcium. One tablespoon provides 87.8 mg while the hulled variety offers only 10.5 mg for that same tablespoon. Comparing sesame seeds to milk turned up some surprising figures in the calcium count. One cup of natural sesame seeds had 1404.0 mg of calcium, while one cup of non-fat milk provided 316.3 mg. and one cup of whole milk contained 291 mg of calcium.

Both natural and hulled sesame seeds contain healthy amounts of the B vitamins riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin. With natural seeds scoring 8.7 mcg of folic acid for 1 tablespoon and plenty of vitamin B6, you can count on sesame seeds for excellent nourishment.

Sesame oil is excellent for reversing the signs of aging and keeping hair lustrous and silky. A Japanese secret!



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