Sweet potatoes were originally came from Central and South America to Japan. Probably they were introduced by Spanish conquistadores to the Philippines, from whence they reached China. These potatoes were introduced to Japan from China in the seventeenth century. After years of improvements we have produced in Japan sweet potatoes which tastes very different from the American counterparts, which are often mislabeled yams. Japanese sweet potatoes, satsumaimo – are very sweet and its texture is smooth, creamy when they are cooked. Japanese sweet potatoes are also fragrant – reminds us of cooked chestnuts.
At the March 6th event Mr. Hiroyuki Onizawa and Katsuhiro Terunuma from Ibaraki Prefecture introduced us their proud dried sweet potato products, hoshi-imo. The practice of drying sweet potatoes and producing nutrient rich preserved food (according to Mr. Terunuma, dried sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin B2, C and E, potassium and dietary fibers) was invented around the end of the 18th century. During the Japan-Russo War dried sweet potatoes became an important army snack. Ibaraki Prefecture today produces 80 percent of dried sweet potato which are consumed in Japan. Their cold and dry winter climate, fertile soil and passionate farmers help to produce the best sweet potato for drying in Japan.
The production of dried sweet potato is very simple and no chemical is involved. Harvested sweet potatoes are rinsed, steamed, peeled, sliced and dried in the sun during cold winter months for one week or so. The resulting product has intense sweetness (natural!), chestnuts like aroma and slight chewy texture.
On his trip to Sunrise Mart during his stay in NYC, Mr. Onizawa was excited to find one of his company’s products sold at the store. Try his ??????(Kakugiri hoshi-imo) on your next trip to Sunrise Mart. You will love it!