This autumn the leaves seem more colourful than ever. The other day walking through the beautiful Autumn colours, left me feeling nostalgic for Japan. Yakiimo! We would say this to our parents and even our teachers when we wanted a warm delicious treat. In the Autumn the cherry tree leaves would fall and for fun the kids would sweep them up into a pile, which is then set on fire to act as an oven. We slowly roasted sweet potatoes wrapped up in tin foil until the skin peels away. In Japan it’s common to see them cooking in fires like this in schools and as a family activity on the weekend. It’s one thing that I really miss at this time of year.
Of course it was Guy Fawkes night last week, the perfect time to show you my own take on roasted sweet potatoes. If you’re feeling adventurous why don’t you try out Yakiimo and prepare them on a bonfire. I’ve lived in London for many years now, and I have always seen firework displays, but what I really love is the Smokey smell that surrounds us. This dish infuses that taste as the sweet potatoes cook.
The sweet potato is ever more popular, recently this has been a healthier substitute for the ordinary potato from fries to mash. Not only do they taste good but also they are heavily packing in loads of health benefits. They contain vitamins B and D, and offer a great source of magnesium, which plays a role with your relaxation and anti stress levels. The list goes on and on with this sweet super food, so keep it in your weekly diet.
Okinawa, the islands to the South of Japan, has the world’s longest life expectancy (also known as, land of longevity) people say its due to the rare sweet potato that can only be found there. It’s purple inside and used across all dishes from sweet to savory. So if you want a taste of this rare treat, I would recommend a trip to Okinawa.
Oven Baked Sweet Potato Korokke (Japanese Croquette)
The Japanese croquette originates from the traditional French version. These were brought over to Japan about 100 years ago by the Dutch who called them Kroket and this evolved into the Japanese name, Korokke. Normally it would be deep-fried but for a healthier option I love to oven bake them. I will be using Japanese breadcrumbs called Panko as it produces a light fluffy texture, these can be found in supermarkets such as Waitrose.
Ingredients – Serves 4
15 small (800-900g) Sweet potatoes makes 600g
1tbs White miso
A pinch of salt
1 tbs Ground Sesame Seeds
1tbs chopped chives½ White medium onion
80g Shimeji mushrooms
100g Shiitake mushrooms
1tbs Soy sauce
A dash of sake3 tbs Vegetable oil
2 cups Panko
2 tbsp Black sesame seeds
Roast Sweet potatoes in the oven for 90 minutes at 160 degrees. Roast them slowly to improve the creamy texture.
Peel the skins and mash, adding the white miso, grated sesame seeds, a pinch of salt and chopped chives. Let the mixture cool, before the next step.Dice the onion into small pieces and remove the stalks from the mushrooms. Just the mushrooms into small pieces. Sauté the onion and mushrooms together in a pan with a dash of sake and soy sauce. Cook on a medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Let the mixture cool down for a while.
Add into the sweet potato mixture and combine well with a little pinch of salt.Heat a pan with the oil, then add the panko and black sesame seed mix spreading evenly. Cook until the panko are a light brown colour. This adds some colour first without the need for deep frying. Pour the crumbs onto a large plate.
Take 1/8 of the sweet potato mixture and make a circular flat shape. Then patted it in the panko to coat each patty. Place on an oven sheet with non-stick baking paper.Put the Korokke in the oven at 200 degrees, for 15 minutes until a rich golden brown colour.
If you wish to eat the Korokke later, you are able to freeze them before they are cooked, then just cook them whenever you like.
As the nights draw in and your thoughts turn to Christmas presents, I have class vouchers available that make the perfect gift for friends and loved ones. Give the gift of Japanese cookery this Christmas! More details available here: Japanese Cooking Vouchers
Enjoy the recipe and those Autumn bonfires!