Recipe: Diagaku Imo (Candied Sweet Potatoes)

daigaku imo edited

Priyam creates recipes the entire family can enjoy ensuring you are not the short order cook for the night! Try her latest recipe of candied sweet potatoes for a fun twist on an international dish. 

By Priyam Sachdev



Diagaku Imo or candied sweet potatoes is a famous snack in Japan. I first tasted this snack at a small, homey Japanese restaurant called Inaho in Nottinghill, London. This was served in a tapas size bowl as a side dish. It’s an absolute love at first bite. With just a few ingredients and an easy cooking method, I have served this to my family on many occasions. I have served them on skewers for a BBQ night and on a bread platter with cold ice tea on a hot summer day. Because of the sweetness it has always been popular among my little nieces and nephews. This dish has always fetched me numerous “yum yum” and “I want some more.” Here is how I prepare  a serving for four.

What you will need:

  • 2 large satsuma potatoes (red skin, yellow flesh sweet potatoes)
  • 2 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce (I used kikoman)
  • ½ cup of water

*Mirin is an important Japanese ingredient. It’s a sweet, low-alcohol wine made from glutinous rice. I don’t worry about using Mirin in a child’s meal because the alcohol in it is minimal plus alcohol has a low boiling temperature so by heating it you can cook it out of a dish. However, if you are still not comfortable, a good nonalcoholic substitute for mirin is rice wine vinegar. Use 1 tablespoon vinegar and a 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar for every 1 tablespoon of mirin.


How to:

First we must take a couple of precautions to avoid burning the potatoes.

  1. Peel & cut the potatoes into bite size chunks.
  2. Soak them in a big bowl of water. This will wash away some of the potato starch.
  3. Place a clean cloth on your kitchen slab and spread out the potatoes.
  4. Use another clean cloth to wipe them dry.
  5. In a wide headed pan spread out the potatoes and pour enough “COLD” cooking oil to cover the potatoes. We use cold oil so that the inside and outside of the potatoes cook at the same temperature making the crunchiness even.
  6. Turn to medium heat. Let them fry for about 20 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
  7. When the potatoes are almost ready you will start preparing the syrup. Place a small pot on low heat.
  8. Add the ready ingredients: sugar, mirin, soya sauce and water. Give it a good stir and leave to boil.
  9. Once you see bubbles on the sides of the pot, use a spatula to check the consistency of the syrup. You will know it is done when the syrup looks like honey. Turn off heat.
  10. For the last and most important part of putting everything together; pierce 4 or 5 potato chunks onto each skewer (or simply place them on a plate like in the image).
  11. Pour the syrup generously over the potatoes while rotating the skewer so all sides are candied well.
  12. Lastly, sprinkle a good amount of sesame seeds for a touch of savory.

Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back after the kid’s plates have been wiped clean (within minutes). Enjoy!


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