Tag: sides

Simmered Kabocha

Simmered Kabocha

If you love winter squashes but have never tried kabocha, you’re in a for a treat. Sometimes called Japanese pumpkin, Kabocha is sweeter than pumpkin and even than butternut squash. When gently simmered, it becomes incredibly tender and makes a perfect side for nearly any read more

Korean Cucumber Salad

Korean Cucumber Salad

Late August and I’m still reaching for quick and easy, no cook dishes that don’t skimp on flavor. And this Korean Cucumber Salad, known as Oi Muchim, is a favorite. It’s cooling and crunchy, a little spicy, and it has an amazing umami packed dressing. You 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



I just recently returned from a family trip to Hungary, where the food was heavy on rich meaty dishes, but light on veggies. I found myself craving one of my meatless meals where I make an array of plant based dishes so there’s a variety read more

Steamed Eggplant

Steamed Eggplant

Eggplant seems to be a divisive vegetable. People are either passionate eggplant lovers or haters. I definitely fall in the lover category and this easy Steamed Eggplant is one of my favorites. Steaming eggplant renders the flesh really lush and tender, and then I pair read more

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad is a quintessential Southeast Asian salad, with a riot of flavors and textures. Known as som tam, this salad is claimed by both Laos and Thailand as a national dish. It’s fresh and crunchy with a vibrant dressing, and I add steamed shrimp to my version, making it hearty enough for a main course meal. CNN even declared Green Papaya Salad to be one of the 50 most delicious dishes in the entire world! I remember first trying som tam many many years ago in college. The flavors capture the best of Thai cuisine. It’s a little tart, a little sweet, kind of funky, and kind of salty. Plus, there’s this burst of intense bold flavor from the herbs, chiles, and garlic. It blew my mind. It’s the opposite of beige food and if you’ve never had green papaya salad, it will be truly life changing. And you need to have some now.

ingredients papaya

Green Papaya Salad Dressing

This dressing is one of my absolute favorite flavors. Nuoc cham is so versatile, I’ve been known to use some version of it in everything from marinades to dipping sauces. I always make a double batch because it keeps for a couple weeks in the fridge.  Use leftovers as a dip for Salt Baked Shrimp or to dress Lemongrass Noodle Bowls.

lime green papaya salad

Composing Green Papaya Salad

Som translates to sour, and tam to pound. So som tam salads have a sour ingredient, like unripe papaya, and all the ingredients get lightly pounded together to release their flavor. I start making my green papaya salad by poaching some shrimp. I let the water come to a boil and then let the shrimp sit in the very hot water off heat. This technique gives you the perfect plump poached shrimp. You can kiss overcooked rubbery shrimp good bye. If you are short on time though you can just buy cooked shrimp at the market.

shrimp green papaya salad


If you’ve never had unripe (green) papaya before, you’re in for a treat. The green is referring to the flesh; as papaya ripens the flesh turns orange. Green papaya is enjoyed the world over for its savory crisp. I actually dislike ripe papaya. I find the texture and the flavor off putting. Plus the seeds look suspiciously like frogs eggs-I’m sure this is just me! My point is that green papaya is a whole different fruit. It’s more similar to cucumbers or watermelon rind: crunchy and refreshing with very little flavor.

Green papaya is easy to find at Asian markets. You can also usually find it in the produce section of well stocked grocery stores. Look for fruit that is bright green and rock hard with no blemishes or soft spots which would indicate ripening.

shred green papaya

After shredding the papaya, I pound the aromatics with a mortar and pestle. The dried shrimp are a traditional ingredient that add just the right funky pop. You can leave them out for a milder, less aggressive flavor.


Green Papaya Salad is a wonderful starter or serve with rice for a  light supper. Try it today so you can see why it’s ranked among the very best dishes on the entire planet! Let me know what you think by commenting on this recipe and don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!


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recipe papaya

Green Papaya Salad

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: salad
  • Cuisine: Thai


  • 1 small green papaya (about a pound), peeled, seeded and shredded
  • 2 large garlic cloves sliced
  • ¼ of a lime thinly sliced
  • ½ pound large shrimp, steamed
  • 1 tablespoon dried shrimp quickly blanched in hot water
  • 1 large tomato diced or a handful of grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces green beans (long beans or haricot verts are fine too), just a small handful
  • Small handful mint leaves, basil, or a combination minced
  • nuoc cham dressing (recipe follows)


  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 large clove garlic minced
  • 2 thai bird chilis


Make Dressing:

  • Mix all ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.
  • Store in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Lasts 2 weeks in the fridge.

Prepare Salad:

  1. Cut the papaya in half, peel the papaya, and then scrape the seeds out and discard.
  2. Shred the papaya with a julienne peeler. You can also use a mandoline. Set the papaya aside.
  3. Pour a quarter of sauce over the shrimp and let the shrimp sit in the sauce while you make the salad.
  4. In a mortar and pestle, place the garlic, dried shrimp, and chiles. Pound the ingredients so that the chiles and garlic are broken up. Add the green beans and continue pounding so they too are a little broken up.
  5. Add the papaya and another quarter of the sauce, continuing to pound and mix for a couple of seconds. Pour the remaining sauce over the papaya and toss lightly to coat.
  6. Pile green papaya salad onto a plate and then garnish with the shrimp, tomatoes, and chopped herbs. Served immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.


*This salad is best consumed within a couple hours of making it. The papaya will leach water as it sits, making the salad watery over time. Drain any excessive liquid, taste the salad before serving, and adjust seasoning as needed. You can also keep the dressing separate from the salad and toss the salad with the dressing right before serving.

*If you do not have a mortar and pestle, mince the garlic, chiles, and dried shrimp and add it to a large bowl with the shredded papaya and green beans. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Pile the salad on a deep plate and garnish with the marinated shrimp, tomatoes, and herbs. 

Keywords: nuoc cham, salads, sides, papaya, healthy, som tum, thai