A white ceramic bowl containing Japanese Candied Sweet Potatoes (Daigaku Imo) served with green tea.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Course: Dessert, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: daigaku imo, sweet potato
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Soaking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Nami

These Japanese Candied Sweet Potatoes (Daigaku Imo) is a classic snack to enjoy in fall and winter. They are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and covered in a sweet candied glaze. Perfect with a cup of green tea!

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Ingredients

#1 Deep-Fry Version

  • 2 Japanese sweet potatoes (Satsumaimo) (1.2 lbs or 540 g)
  • 2 tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt) (for soaking sweet potatoes)
  • 2 cups neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc) (for deep frying)
  • 5 Tbsp sugar (60 g)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp mirin (Substitute: Use ½ Tbsp sugar)
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (vinegar helps the sugar from hardening when it cools down)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted black sesame seeds (for garnish)

#2 Steam & Shallow-Fry Version

  • 11 oz Japanese sweet potato (Satsumaimo) (300 g)
  • 3 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
  • 5 Tbsp sugar (60 g)
  • ¼ tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp rice vinegar (vinegar helps the sugar from hardening when it cools down)
  • 1 tsp toasted black sesame seeds (for garnish)

Instructions

#1 Deep-Fry Version

  1. Gather all the ingredients.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes Ingredients
  2. Carefully wash the sweet potatoes (Don’t peel the skin). Cut the sweet potatoes diagonally while rotating the sweet potato a quarter between cuts. This Japanese cutting technique is called “Rangiri”.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 1
  3. Put the sweet potatoes in 8 cups water and add 2 tsp salt. Soak for 15 minutes to remove starch.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 2
  4. Add the oil in the medium pot (I use a 2.75-QT Staub) and bring it to 320 ºF (160 ºC) (Use a cooking thermometer helps!). Meanwhile, dry the sweet potatoes with the kitchen towel (or paper towel).

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 3
  5. When the oil has reached 320 ºF (160 ºC), add the sweet potatoes (half of them) into the oil and deep fry. Do not crowd the pot and fry in batches (I do twice).

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 4
  6. Deep fry until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 6
  7. When it's golden brown, insert a wooden skewer to make sure it goes through. Transfer to a wire rack or a paper towel to drain the oil.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 7
  8. To make candy (syrup), combine 5 Tbsp sugar, 1 ½ Tbsp water, and 1 Tbsp Mirin in a large frying pan off the heat. Put on the stove and bring it to boil on medium heat.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 8
  9. Once the mixture is bubbling, add 1 tsp vinegar and 1 tsp soy sauce.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 9
  10. Reduce the mixture, stirring constantly, until the right consistency. When you can draw a line on the pan, add the sweet potatoes.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 10
  11. Turn off the heat and coat the sweet potatoes with syrup. Sprinkle black sesame seeds (once the candy is hardened, sesame seeds won't stick to the surface, so do it while candy is soft).

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 11
  12. Serve on a plate or bowl. Enjoy!

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 12

#2 Steam & Shallow-Fry Version

  1. Gather all the ingredients.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes Ingredients
  2. Carefully wash the sweet potatoes (Don’t peel the skin).

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 1
  3. Cut the sweet potatoes diagonally while rotating the sweet potato a quarter between cuts. This Japanese cutting technique is called “Rangiri”.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 2
  4. Soak sweet potatoes in water for 15 minutes to remove starch.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 3
  5. Do not heat the frying pan yet. Add sugar, oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar in the pan and combine all together.
    Candied Sweet Potatoes 5
  6. Dry the sweet potatoes completely with paper towel and place in the pan.
    Candied Sweet Potatoes 6
  7. Wrap the frying pan’s lid with kitchen cloth. This is to prevent condensation on the lid dripping into sweet potatoes while cooking.
    Candied Sweet Potatoes 4
  8. Cover with the lid and turn on the heat to medium.
    Candied Sweet Potatoes 7
  9. When you hear bubbling sound from the pan, turn the heat to low to medium-low, and set timer for 2 minutes. Open the lid and flip the sweet potatoes every 2-3 minute so that all sides will have nice golden brown color and get flavored.
    Candied Sweet Potatoes 8
  10. Depends on the size of sweet potatoes, the cooking time varies, cook for 8-10 minutes or until an inserted skewer goes through smoothly (I personally prefer it a bit tougher than completely soft texture). Transfer to the serving plate/bowl and sprinkle black sesame seeds.

    Candied Sweet Potatoes 9

Recipe Notes

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.