Category: Sweets

Ube Pancakes

Ube Pancakes

Last week I showed you how to make Ube Halaya, also known as purple yam jam, and this week I’m going to share a truly magical way to use it. Breakfast, brunch, a late night snack…there’s really no time that a person would turn down read more

Ube Halaya

Ube Halaya

If there’s one thing I love it’s a double duty recipe that is absolutely stellar on its own, but can also be used as a component in other dishes. And this Ube Halaya, also known as purple yam jam, falls in that category. Ube Halaya read more

Daigaku Imo

Daigaku Imo

Sometimes you just want something fried. And maybe a little sweet too while you’re at it. Enter Japanese candied potatoes, known as Daigaku Imo.  These are flash fried to crispy perfection, and glazed with a sweet and tangy sauce. Daigaku Imo translates to College Potatoes. This yummy snack has long been a staple for university students in Japan as it’s inexpensive as well as delicious. Even today it is common to see Daigaku Imo vendors on college campuses and at school festivals.  Luckily we don’t have to go back to college to enjoy this addictive snack; with just a few ingredients and about 20 minutes you can be devouring this as quickly as we do in my home.

ingredients daigaku imo

Japanese Sweet Potatoes

I seek out Japanese sweet potatoes when making Daigaku Imo. They have a thin red skin and a creamy colored flesh. They are sweeter than other varieties and their higher starch content makes the interior especially fluffy. You can find them at most Asian grocers, but I also have good luck finding them at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

I start by thoroughly washing the potatoes and then cutting them into bite sized wedges using the roll cut technique, which gives more surface area to evenly crisp and absorb sauce.

wedge cut daigaku imo

heating oil for daigaku imo

I fry them for 6-8 minutes, until they are soft enough to be pierced by a skewer. Then I remove the potatoes and drain them. I double fry them; the first fry cooks them through and the second one insures they will have a crispy exterior. While the potatoes are draining, I bring the oil back to 340 degrees.

double fry daigaku imo

Daigaku Imo Sauce

The real magic of Daigaku Imo lies in the sauce. Is there anything better than something that’s both sweet and salty?! First I make a quick caramel, and then a little soy sauce and mirin add complexity. Don’t be scared of making caramel, it’s really easy.

making caramel daigaku

I then let it cook for 2-3 minutes without stirring, until it’s a deep amber brown. Then I remove it from the heat and stir in the mirin and soy sauce, be careful at this point because it will bubble furiously.

syrup imo

A sprinkling of black sesame seeds adds a final traditional and beautiful touch.

Then the only thing left to do is to serve and devour your Daigaku Imo, no dorm room or tuition required!

This makes a great snack for the late night munchies. But I also like to serve them as part of a meal made from little bites of this and that; like my Japanese Fried Chicken, Kimchi Pancake, and Avocado Fries.  I can’t wait for you try these little nuggets of crispy sweet and salty perfection, let me know what you think! And don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations!


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recipe college potatoes

Daigaku Imo

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6-8 minutes
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: small plates
  • Cuisine: Japanese


  • 2 Large Japanese Sweet Potato (about 1 ¼ pounds)
  • 4 Cups neutral oil
  • 5 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon Mirin
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds
  • A pinch of coarse salt for garnish


  1. Wash the potatoes well under running water.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into thin wedges by cutting on an angle and then rolling the potato after each cut. This roll cut technique allows the potato to have as much surface area as possible to cook evenly and absorb sauce.
  3. Soak the wedges in a bowl of cold water 5-10 minutes to remove excess starch. Then drain and blot dry with a dish towel or paper towels.
  4. Add the oil to a large deep skillet (I used a wok pan) and heat over medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes until the oil reaches 340 degrees. You can use a candy thermometer to check or just put one piece of potato into the oil. It should immediately sizzle.
  5. Add the potatoes carefully and deep fry for about 6-8 minutes until a skewer can easily pierce the potato.
  6. Drain the potatoes in a colander or a paper towel lined plate and reheat the oil for several minutes.
  7. Add the potatoes and fry for an additional 3 minutes until the potatoes are a deep golden brown color.
  8. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.
  9. Combine the sugar and water in a large skillet, whisking so the sugar is well mixed.
  10. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  11. Let the sugar mixture cook undisturbed (no more touching) for 2-3 minutes until it is an amber brown. 
  12. Turn the heat off and carefully add the soy sauce and mirin (it will bubble furiously), stirring with a whisk to combine.  
  13. Add the potatoes to the syrup. 
  14. Coat the potatoes in the syrup and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
  15. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with some coarse salt. Serve daigaku imo immediately. 


*You do not need to throw out the frying oil. Just cool it and then put it through a fine mesh if needed. Save the oil to fry other foods. You can also use less oil and use a smaller pot for frying. You will need to fry the potatoes in batches however. 

Keywords: japanese, snacks, sweet potatoes, vegan, sides, sweets



Crema Catalana, flan, creme brulee… there’s something about a creamy custard topped with caramel that is universally irresistible. Purin is Japan’s take on the classic pairing and is incredibly popular. You can even find Purin for sale in convenience stores. It’s one of my favorite read more

Overnight Oats

Overnight Oats

How many times have you heard, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”?  Now….how often do you actually eat breakfast? Yeah, me too. It’s just a lot to expect a person to get up and do everything they have to do to get read more

Banana Cake

Banana Cake

This recipe sits somewhere between cake and bread. If I need a quick dessert, it’s Banana Cake; lusciously light and tender and baked in a Bundt pan so it’s automatically festive. When I have a hankering for something a little sweet at breakfast however, it magically becomes Banana Bread. Full of wholesome ripe bananas and not overly sweet, it makes a perfectly reasonable breakfast. It’s delicious either way, so you decide!

I know there are a million recipes for Banana Bread. Why would I even waste my time or yours posting yet another recipe for Banana Bread? Well do you love yours? Would you bet it’s the best one ever? Does every person who has a bite ask for the recipe? If you answered no, then I have you covered. My friend’s mother, who’s often told hers is amazing, even asked for the recipe. So if you’re looking for THE recipe, let mine be a contender.

This Banana Cake is the culmination of over 2 decades of improving on what’s essentially a simple quick bread. I’ve tried them all and I’ve taken the best of what I’ve learned to make the most delicious version. But this is not a crazy recipe with a lot of convoluted steps like microwaving and boiling down banana juice (hello Cook’s Illustrated) or that makes you add ingredients like vanilla pudding, you don’t normally have on hand (looking at you Chrissy Teigen). Ultimately, the best banana cake is one you can make and eat right away! So let’s get to it.

banana ingredients

I don’t bake often, but a lifetime of trial and error has taught me a few baking basics that help to guarantee good results, even if you too are not a professional baker:

  • Always read through the recipe before you begin. Oftentimes there are specific instructions for the type of pan you’ll need, and how to prep it. And there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through making a cake and realizing the recipe calls for baking soda AND baking powder.
  • The temperature of ingredients is very important. Use room temperature eggs. If your eggs are straight from the fridge, put them in warm water for 10 minutes.
  • A kitchen scale is your best friend when baking because it is the most accurate. If you do not have one, make sure you always stir your dry ingredients before scooping. Never pack flour into a measuring cup. And always level off with the back of a butter knife if using the scooping method. If your cakes come out dense rather than light and fluffy, too much flour could be to blame.
  • If you do not bake often, check the expiration date on your baking powder and baking soda. Many times old powders will be the reason your cake did not rise properly.
  • Preheating your oven is crucial. Turn on your oven before you start the recipe. If you do not have an automatic beeper letting you know your oven is ready, let your oven heat up for 30 minutes before you start baking.
  • Ovens differ- some run hot while others are cooler. Test your baked goods on the shorter bake time when you’re given an approximate time just to be safe.

Use Ripe Bananas for the Best Banana Cake!

This banana cake is perfect for all those bananas in your fruit bowl that look past their prime. The riper and softer, the better. The ones on the left won’t really impart much banana-y flavor, the ones in the middle are better, but to borrow from Goldilocks, the bananas so ripe that they are black are just right. I know they look scary! But trust me, you’ll be thrilled with the results.

We always have bananas at the restaurants for drinks and desserts. And often, someone will hand me an overripe bunch with a knowing smile. I make this bread/cake so often, it literally takes me about 10 minutes to get it in the oven. There’s nothing fancy or difficult about this recipe. Just use those scary ripe bananas and carry on.

Make the Banana Cake Batter

mash bananas

Mayonnaise in a cake?! A thousand times yes! At its core, mayo is oil and eggs and it adds a lush texture. It doesn’t impart flavor, it just helps make an exceptionally moist cake. I use mayo because I always have it. But sour cream or even yogurt work well too. If you don’t have any of those items, just skip it. Your Banana Cake will still be great.

eggs banana cake

dry stuff banana cake

For those of you who hate to wash dishes, this recipe only uses two bowls. You could also make it a one bowl cake, but I always like to stir all of the dry ingredients together first. It ensures that the flour and leaveners are well mixed and it keeps me from over-mixing the batter. I use a fork to whisk the dry ingredients together, then use the same fork to mix the the wet ingredients.

bundt spray

bake banana cake

I like to pour in the chocolate chips rather than mixing them into the batter. I find that when you mix the the chips into the batter, they sometimes stick to to the pan and tear the cake when you turn it out. Also, I like the ribbons of chocolate that run through the cake. Chocolate too much for a breakfast bread? You can replace them with toasted nuts, dried fruit, or anything else you like in your banana bread.

I check for doneness at about 30-35 minutes. A toothpick test should come out with some wet crumbs still clinging; you don’t want it to be totally dry. It will continue to bake when you bring it out of the oven. And a little too wet is definitely better than bone dry. I cool it completely in the pan and then turn it out onto a platter. I love this banana cake (or breakfast banana bread) just as it is. But you could certainly sprinkle a little confectioner’s sugar on the top. Try this out and let me know what you think! Comment below or tag us on Insta @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!

Are you looking for more tried and true, failproof baking ideas? Try my Matcha Cake and Japanese Cheesecake!



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recipe card banana cake

Banana Cake

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: serves 6-8 1x
  • Category: sweets


  • 45 large over ripe bananas (18 ounces peeled)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar (7 ounces)
  • ½ cup neutral oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise (you can also use sour cream)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 9 ounces all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Baking pan spray


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Peel and mash the bananas well in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, light brown sugar, neutral oil, mayonnaise, and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In another medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Use a fork and whisk well.
  4. Use the same fork for the other bowl and then mix the wet ingredients well.
  5. Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix well. 
  6. Spray a 10 cup bundt pan well with the pan spray. 
  7. Pour half the mixture into the bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips over the batter. Pour the rest of the batter over the chocolate chips. Then sprinkle the remaining chips over the top.
  8. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick test comes out with some wet crumbs. The cake will continue to cook as it sits in the pan so you do not want to bake it until the toothpick comes out clean-it will not be as moist.
  9. Cool the bread in the pan completely and then turn the bread out. Slice and serve. 


* This bread can sit out for 2 days at room temperature. Put it in the fridge or freeze slices if you cannot finish it within a couple days.

Keywords: sweets, banana, snacks, dessert, breakfast