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Old 11-13-2011, 08:23 PM   #1
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Mountain Yam


This is one of my favorite tubers. At an Asian market, it’ll be labeled either yama-imo (mountain yam) or naga-imo (long yam). I like its funky multiple personality. Read its wiki at your own risk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagaimo

A macro of its skin and cross-section.


When peeled, soaked in slightly acidic water for a minute, then grated, it becomes slimier than the nose snot of a 4-yr old with a winter cold. It’s called tororo, a sort of onomatopoeia for “thick drip-drip.” It can be used as a thickener, or to moisturize something somewhat dry.


One way I like it is ochazuke (tea add). Traditionally, a pour of tea to clean and finish off what’s left in a bowl of rice, including bits from a meal. More often, a simple light leftover lunch to fuel the afternoon. Top with tororo, wasabi and scallions.


Grated yama-imo is also one of the ingredients of “Japanese pizza,” a moist savory pancake, almost as common as yakitori joints and McDonald’s. Cooked, mountain yam has the taste and texture of airy, very crisp red potatoes.

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Old 11-14-2011, 09:26 PM   #2
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Okonomiyaki

The Japanese translation is “cook your preference.” Here’s the wiki: Okonomiyaki - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Carts and stalls abound throughout their rail system stations. At a restaurant, there may be a flat grill in the center of the tables. Everyone would get a bowl of batter and a small spatula. A tray, arrayed with any dozens of ingredients, allows everyone to mix, concoct and cook their own pancake.

Basic batter is:

1 egg
2 cups flour
2 cups cold dashi stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
¼ oz yama-imo, grated into tororo

Markets sell many brands of prepared flour, just add water. Most of them combine the wheat with cassava or tapioca flour. Here’s my cookbook entirely devoted to okonomiyaki.



Shredded/chopped raw cabbage is the most common addition. Seafood is popular. But its possible ingredients are endless. Okonomiyaki is also a good vehicle for leftovers.


When the griddling is done, it will typically have a wet, pasty consistency. Not a cake or bread texture. I like a really crisp, almost deep-fried exterior browning. Sauces and toppings to finish it are also nearly endless. Tonkatsu sauce, like a sweetened A-1, is popular, as is mayonnaise. Common toppings include dried bonito shavings and dried seaweed flakes.



Today, mine has: shredded cabbage briefly blanched, cooked and chopped sweet Chinese lap xuong sausages (which I dare say is almost as good as straight-up bacon), calamari rings, shiitake mushrooms, scallions and toasted sesame seeds. It’s brushed with yakisoba sauce, sprinkled with dried shiso & katsuobushi, a dollop of mayo and salt-brined ginger in its traditional red dye.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:31 PM   #3
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That looks very good!
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:10 PM   #4
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It’s also good raw. Sliced, it has a coat of slime. Texture is light, refreshing, a moisture-filled crunch. It reminds me a bit of water chestnuts. Taste is very bland, just a hint of potato. I like them in small crouton cubes topping a salad. Or, matchsticks sprinkled with bonito flakes and a drizzle of ponzu (soy plus citrus).
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Old 11-16-2011, 01:12 AM   #5
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Oh, Jicama with Ponzu...that would be a good crunchy snack! Thanks Spork. I don't know that I could find a mountain yam in Missoula.
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Old 11-16-2011, 07:26 PM   #6
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You’re right, PFi, raw, it reminds me very much of jicama. Its slimy coat also reminds me a bit of prickly pear cactus blades. Here’s a quick panfry in fat rendered from sweet Chinese sausage. Aroma is decidedly potato. Texture softens but still retains a bit of its crunch. Taste is also of a mild, maybe young potato. I also like it in larger chunks, boiled in soups and stews. It becomes a bit more starchy in texture, but nowhere near mealy. I finished this with shrimp tossed in an alfredo sauce topped with panko and briefly broiled as a gratin.

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Old 11-17-2011, 01:35 AM   #7
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Smells good!!! And looks great!

I can cut jicama like french fries and use those for dipping. I can get fresh cactus, too.
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