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Dec 27, 2007 11:05 AM

ISO Japanese sweet potatoes (sastumaimo)

Anyone know where to find Japanese sweet potatoes in the New York area? Also any suggestions on how to prepare it as well as tips on how to select the best ones to purchase? I am a freelance writer who craves this warming food of winter.

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  1. They are available in most Japanese grocery stores, including Sunrise Mart and JAS Mart in East Village, and Katagiri on 59th Street.

    This website has some good suggestions of recipes:

    1. I like these very much and often buy them from Yuno at the Union Square Market (she will not be back until spring). But I like them best baked, not steamed. The result is deliciously creamy when you bake at 400-425.

      1. Saw someone last week outside of the Mitsuwa market in the walkway near the Mitsuwa shuttle with a steel barrel and a big sign for baked sweet potato. If there are other Japanese stuff you want to get (like their beautiful New Years candies) You can get on the Mitsuwa shuttle from Port Authority's Gate 51 for $2 one way.

        To make at home, the gohan suggested in kobetobiko's link is very good. Even more intensely delicious would be to scrub clean the whole sweet potato, pat dry, wrap competely in aluminum foil and bake at 375 or 400 until it's soft and slightly caramelized. Another way is to peel, cut in big chunks and cook in water with a small piece of ginger until tender. Add sweetener of your choice, but most commonly used is brown sugar. Great winter dessert soup - spicy hot and sweet!

        2 Replies
        1. re: HLing

          i was about to say that b/c at the mitsuwa in CA by my house, there is always a guy serving it (baked in a huge wooden thing over hot coals) fact i just had one a couple days ago (since i was at home for the holidays) and it was awesome

          1. re: HLing

            Here's a sighting from last winter. If you caught this vendor on a weekday, it sounds as if she has expanded her hours ...

          2. I prefer long potatoes no more than 2 1/2" in diameter. Boiling is my method of choice because it's fastest and no oven is required. I just haven't realized a way of identifying a Korean yam, over a Chinese yam, over a Japanese yam. Could it be they are one and the same? I've been to many Asian markets and I just assumed they carried what sold most in that specific community. Korean market, Korean neighborhood, must be Korean yams. Can someone shed some light on the subject ...? TIA. ... Are they one and the same?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Cheese Boy

              They are pretty much the same. At least with the Korean and the Japanese ones. I've seen satsuma-imo in many Chinese markets as well, but perhaps I don't know enough about the sub-species of sweet potatoes to know full-well if they are exactly the same. If you know how to identify satsuma-imo by the skin color and the internal color, you can find them at any number of places with Asian groceries. At some Korean markets in Queens, they sell steamed satsuma-imo, sometimes hot, sometimes packed in plastic; I've been alerted to some because they have signs printed in Japanese saying "we have steamed satsuma-imo."

              1. re: E Eto

                I've come to like the Korean sweet potatoes most.
                Their exterior resembles that of a batata (see batata image here) The Japanese and Chinese variety are also very good. I do not purchase orange flesh "yams" -- they are inferior to ALL of these.

                Here are 3 images of *supposed* Korean sweet potatoes ... the differences between the Asian varieties are so subtle. These are all Korean.

            2. Has anyone seen these lately?? I have been trying to find them and have been unsuccessful at all my normal spots in Hells Kitchen. Westerley only has extremely wimpy, somewhat old ones and WF is out. Called Katagiri in Midtown East and they said they don't have any right now either. Even the Edgewater WF is out. I can't find out why there is a sudden drought in their availability as I would think they would be in season now more than early summer? Regardless, I am going into withdrawal!