Satsumaimo gohan (sweet potato rice)

Ah, comfort food. I think this dish rates in the top five best things I’ve ever eaten. Or at least the top ten. Anyway, it’s good, good, good.

Satsumaimo is a Japanese sweet potato. The flesh is golden, like we are familiar with in North America, but the outside is bright purple. The recipe would work with other varieties of sweet potato, but it’s just not the same. So we were happy to find some decent-ish satsumaimo at P.A. in Montreal.

Yaki-imo photo courtesy of Flickr user Ganjin. Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

To prepare the dish, Yusuke started by washing the potato and cutting out the eyes. He left the skin on this time, but he often peels it. Next, he cut it into 1 inch cubes, which were soaked in salty water for 10-15 minutes. The water was changed 2 or 3 times during the process. The first time, the water should taste salty, with less or none in the subsequent baths. Yusuke wasn’t sure why the soaking is necessary, but perhaps it reduces the bitterness and enhances sweetness.

The uncooked rice was washed, drained, and set aside for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This technique is used for any maze gohan (mixed rice).

After the waiting time, water was added to the rice as usual in the rice cooker. In addition, he stirred in 1 tbsp each of soy sauce, sake, and mirin. On top of the mixture in the rice cooker, he added the sweet potato cubes and final one strip of dried kombu.

From there, it was just a matter of turning on the rice cooker and waiting for the magic. The rice was particularly fragrant while cooking, and I was drooling by the time it was ready.

For the final touch, we sprinkled crushed black sesame seeds on the top of the rice.

We also had miso soup with the meal (of course), and it was extra salty with wakame and bean sprouts. A perfect foil to the sweet rice.

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