Kanako's Kitchen

Yakiimo: Roasted Sweet Potato

Posted in mid-afternoon snack by Kanako Noda on October 19, 2009

yakiimoRoasted sweet potatoes are probably the most popular snack in Japan in the autumn. It’s simple, really: you just roast a sweet potato over dry heat. Nothing more. It’s certainly comfort food but…can something this simple be counted as Japanese home cooking?

Based on this snack’s popularity, I think the answer is a definite yes.

Actually, the word “snack” gives the wrong idea. When you hear “snack” you picture someone munching junk food mindlessly out of a bag while watching TV. The word I was looking for is おやつ – “oyatsu” – which isn’t like that at all.

Oyatsu is a concept that doesn’t really seem to exist in North America. It’s more like “afternoon tea” is for the English, or “merienda” in Spain and Latin America: a very light, mid-afternoon meal mothers feed their kids when they come home from school. Oyatsu-eating comes complete with its little rules, rituals and repetitions. In a way, it’s a real shame that there’s no oyatsu culture out here.

sweet potatoIngredients


  1. Roast sweet potato covered in a pan on a very low flame for about an hour (turning over now and again.)
  2. Serve with butter or salt, to taste.

If you’re barbequing, wrap each sweet potato in aluminium foil and grill.

roast sweet potato sweet potato after 1 hour click to enlarge

I really don’t know why, but in Japan yakiimo is always served with milk. I think it’s a great combo. So when you make yakiimo, pour yourself a tall glass of cold milk.

yakiimo with milk

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4 Responses

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  1. Kepler said, on October 19, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Hey, this is such a great idea! Japanese cuisine is the best. I bought a general Japanese cooking book some years ago and an Okinawa one this one and a nisei friend gives me some tips, but this is absolutely excellent!
    Please, let us know if some of the things you do belong to a particular region or time of the year (you could also put the Japanese name on the side, it always looks pretty 🙂

    • nodako said, on October 19, 2009 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Kepler
      Thank you very much.
      I’ll try to put Japanese name for the recipe, but sometimes there are things I don’t even know the exact name and I have to google looking for the real name. And usually I try to make something seasonal, because they are cheeper, fresh and tasty.

      • Kepler said, on October 20, 2009 at 7:19 am

        Perhaps this is useful:
        But they are surely just a tiny selection and I suppose there are things you will be adapting and inventing.

        I agree getting seasonal makes more sense, for the reasons you mentioned and for the environment, it is precisely because of that sometimes a remark like ‘for winter/summer’ may be useful. Most people (including me) are not really aware of what things are “in season” or were created at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry or brought in big airplanes from Indonesian plantations, we just grab them from the shelves (shame on us). Perhaps these posts will be read in a different season. I know people read them many months later because they are looking for something specific. Is Quico cooking Venezuelan? There is more than just the plain arepas or pabellón and he will find the ingredients in Montreal, unlike Maastricht :-).
        Anyway: ありがとうございます。

  2. Emily said, on August 2, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I bookmarked this page as being the best yaki imo how-to I’ve found. I made it today, using the barbeque. It was delicious and warm! Great recipe, thank you!

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