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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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
- Wash the potatoes well under running water.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the potatoes carefully and deep fry for about 6-8 minutes until a skewer can easily pierce the potato.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander or a paper towel lined plate and reheat the oil for several minutes.
- Add the potatoes and fry for an additional 3 minutes until the potatoes are a deep golden brown color.
- Set aside while you prepare the sauce.
- Combine the sugar and water in a large skillet, whisking so the sugar is well mixed.
- Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Let the sugar mixture cook undisturbed (no more touching) for 2-3 minutes until it is an amber brown.
- Turn the heat off and carefully add the soy sauce and mirin (it will bubble furiously), stirring with a whisk to combine.
- Add the potatoes to the syrup.
- Coat the potatoes in the syrup and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
- 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