I’m in love with baked sweet potatoes, known as Yakiimo in Japanese. They are literally very sweet. I wonder how it’s possible to contain that sweetness in natural food. With buttery and creamy texture, it’s truly decent winter dessert. Besides, it has health benefits featuring a lot of vitamins, dietary fiber and minerals. The white flesh in the purple skin becomes a shiny golden hue when baked.
I’m thrilled to tell you about my journey to the sweetest baked Japanese sweet potato “recipe”.
STEP 1: choose the best sweet potato
The best sweet potato means the sweet potato with high sugar content. Here are some tips to get a real sweet, sweet potato.
- Buy the sweet potato in the best time of year, November to January.
- Choose the branded sweet potato than non-brand.
- Look at the edge of a sweet potato and get the one syrup comes out.
My top 5 sweet potato brands, listed in the descending order of their sweetness.
- Toroama mitsu imo (とろあま蜜芋)
- Tomino kawagoe imo (富の川越芋)
- An non imo (安納芋)
- Beni haruka (紅はるか)
- Silk sweet (シルクスイート)
STEP 2: Store the sweet potato in a right place
Once you get the looks delicious sweet potato, next important thing is how to store it. But the best way to store is nothing different from other tuber. Firstly, remove the sweet potatoes from the package and wrap them in paper without washing. Then store in a cool and dark place with good ventilation. In the ideal room temperature 10 to 15 C (50 to 55 F) It will last one month. If the room temperature is higher than that, keep in a fridge and consume within a week. Make sure not to put in a freezer unless it cooked.
STEP 3: Bake the sweet potato in the best way
How to bake delicious sweet potato become a topic on media as winter gets closer in Japan. But their tips are various so I just followed curious tips one by one. Then I found my ultimate recipe in the end.
- Soak sweet potatoes in salt water overnight, then bake at 70 C (167 F) for 45 minutes.
This recipe was on the popular morning TV program, introducing from a sweet potato farmer. She said, 1 tablespoon of salt brings out the sweetness of sweet potato. And I knew that many web sites specify that sugar content increases when a digestive enzyme called beta-amylase contained in sweet potatoes is heated at a low temperature of around 70 C. So I gave it a try.
Against my expectation, obviously, those which did not in the salt water was sweeter. Besides, the texture was a little dry as it may be the temperature was too low.
- With or without aluminum foil
Generally there are 2 types of baked sweet potato recipe, with or without aluminum foil. I tried both under the same condition.
It is a matter of taste. If you are looking for sweetness and crispy skin like me, you shouldn’t wrap them up. However wrapped in an aluminum foil sheet was clearly moister than unwrapped.
- Bake at 160 C (320 F) for 90 minutes.
This is the most popular recipe of temperature and baking time rank high on search engines in Japanese. Finally, I tried the standard way.
It was tasty. But I would say, I expected more crispy on the outside. And I thought that longer baking time is necessary to get fully creamy texture on the inside.
My conclusion is
- No salt
- No aluminum foil
- The temperature should be higher than 160 C
- The baking time should be longer than 90 minutes
Based on the results, I figured out the recipe below.
- Bake at 190 C (374 F) for 90 minutes, then leave in the oven door closed for 60 minutes.
The recipe resulted in a mighty hit! This was exactly what I’d been looking for. It worked well to make crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside! It was the sweetest baked sweet potato ever. As you can see on the photograph, syrup coming out from the side. A part between skin and inside was somehow caramelized. My husband said this is the one and don’t change the recipe anymore. It was indescribably delicious.
Thank you for reading my blog post. This is how this journey came to the end. I hope you find Japanese sweet potatoes and try this out the recipe!
If you like to try other Japanese sweet potato recipe, check out my Vegan No bake Sweet Potato Pudding and Crispy Sweet Potato Spring Rolls with Pastry Cream Dip.
How to make the Perfect Baked Japanese Sweet Potato
- 3-4 whole Japanese sweet potao
- Wash the potatoes. You don't need to dry them up.
- Poke each potato a couple of times with a fork. Be careful not to hurt your hands.
- Place the potatoes directly onto a oven rack.
- Bake the potatoes at 190C (374F) for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Then leave them in the oven door closed for 1 hour.
Note: The recipe was updated in May 2021.