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potatoes in Japan


prasantrin
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For some reason, I suck at using the current search function of this site. Is it just me, or do others have the same problem?

Regardless...I've been trying to determine which potatoes can be used for what kinds of dishes. For example, May Queen (meiquiin). Best for boiling, or for mashing and baking? And the standard Hokkaido potato--I assume it's best for boiling? I just can't figure it out! Help!

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The two main potato types you will find in the store are

男爵 danshaku (the is the standard potato in Japan)

http://www.uosyun.com/imo/dansyaku.jpg

this is best for boiling and simmering, but it is the one I turn to for mashed potatoes and baked potatoes as well.

メークィン May Queen

http://www.uosyun.com/imo/mekuin.jpg

these hold their shape well and I use them for salads

these are one of my new favorites but tehy can be harder to find

きたあかり kita akari

http://www.uosyun.com/imo/kitaakari.jpg

these have a yellowish flesh and I prefer the taste over the other two, i use them for anything when I find them. :biggrin:

There really isn't an equivalent to the North American russet, the really floury potato....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Have any of you ever wondered why some May Queen potatoes are more likely to lose their shape than others and why some Danshaku potatoes are more likely to retain their shape than others.

The October, 13, 1999 edition http://www3.nhk.or.jp/gatten/archive/1999q4/19991013.html (Japanese only) of the famous NHK TV program, Tameshite Gatten, answers your question. The site explains that potatoes with high starch content are likely to lose their shape while those with low content are likely to retain their shape, and introduces a test to determine whether certain potatoes will lose their shape: Dissolve 120 g of salt in 1 liter of water and put potatoes in the solution. Those potatoes that float on the surface have low starch content and are likely to retain their shape while those that sink down have high starch content and are likely to lose their shape.

Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
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Have any of you ever wondered why some May Queen potatoes are more likely to lose their shape than others and why some Danshaku potatoes are more likely to retain their shape than others.

The October, 13, 1999 edition http://www3.nhk.or.jp/gatten/archive/1999q4/19991013.html (Japanese only) of the famous NHK TV program, Tameshite Gatten, answers your question.  The site explains that potatoes with high starch content are likely to lose their shape while those with low content are likely to retain their shape, and introduces a test to determine whether certain potatoes will lose their shape:  Dissolve 120 g of salt in 1 liter of water and put potatoes in the solution.  Those potatoes that float on the surface have low starch content and are likely to retain their shape while those that sink down have high starch content and are likely to lose their shape.

Thanks Hiroyuki.

I think most North Americans are already familiar with the idea that starch is the key in determining how any given variety of potato can be used. We have a huge variety of potatoes, and tend to divide them into three starch-based categories: starchy, waxy, and all-purpose.

In Japan, "May Queen" potatoes are the ones recommended for boiling or simmering, but I've been disappointed with them. Don't know if May Queens are just not waxy enough, or if the ones I'm buying are just too old (I think potatoes become starchier as they age).

In fact, I've been disappointed with all potatoes in Japan- the variety is small, they are less flavourful, and they are just too all-purpose (as in, May Queens are too starchy and danshaku aren't starchy enough).

I will be on the lookout for Akita akari potatoes though.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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I will be on the lookout for Akita akari potatoes though.

actually they are from Hokkaido and called Kita Akari, I have seen them written in both katakana and hiragana (キタアカリ きたあかり), I have a 3 kg box being delivered through my co-op this morning. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Boiling...I'm assuming you mean "boil and not disintegrate", like cubes of potato in a stew or salad, since you mention mash separately?

I've about given up on May Queen, they don't seem to have either the flavor or the texture that I want. I cube the ordinary old Danshaku and soak them in water to get rid of some of the surface starch, then boil them...that stops them disintegrating so much.

Japan's very hot summers seem to produce more of the brown/hollow centers than I am used to seeing in cool New Zealand.

Many Japanese people firmly believe that Japanese potatoes are the best in the world. I can't figure this one out, unless the criteria for Japanese potatoes is 1) croquettes (mashed then fried) or 2)kona-fuki (boiled, then dry-shaken to set surface starch). In both cases, the potatoes are seasoned quite highly, so maybe the lack of flavor isn't an issue.

Newer varieties...there's the Kita-Akari that Kris mentioned, also a rough-skinned potato which I think is called Toya, and a red smooth-skinned potato called Red Andes. However, I see these very rarely!

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well I thought I was getting kita akari today but when the delivery came the box said Hokkai-kogane.

I found this on the internet (Japanese)

http://www.rakuten.co.jp/izumiya-ty/429815/431448/484503/

they seem to be a yellow fleshed waxy type, I will keep you posted on how they are..

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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thanks, all, for the replies! I might have to try the salt/water floating trick with all my potatoes from now on. I had been having a lot of trouble with potatoes, lately. It seemed that one day, one kind would be great for boiling and one week later, the same type (but from a different batch) would just disintegrate. Same goes for baking--one week I'd get fabulous baked potatoes and the next week they'd be crappy. Although I don't eat potatoes very often, I long for the variety available in Canada--perhaps we don't have quite as many as the US, but at least it's better than this!

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I think the weather this year may not have been great potato-growing weather, and the potatoes in the supermarkets this year, which should be at their best right now, don't look great.

First we had that very hot weather...likely to cause hollow spots, interrupt growth and create weird-shaped small potatoes with off textures. Then we had cold weather and heaps of rain. perfect to start these mutant potatoes rotting... :sad:

Time for the peasants to eat cake, I guess!

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  • 1 month later...

I made a fondue last night and I boiled some kita akari potatoes for dipping, this is is what they look like cut

gallery_6134_119_1104025259.jpg

because of bad lighting you can't see their true color, they are a bit more yellow.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I found some wonderful potatoes!

gallery_6134_549_1105237660.jpg

インカのめざめ

inca no mezame

I wish I had taken a picture of these cut, the flesh was a deep yellow similar to the way the name is written on the package. These were small about the size of new potatoes and the taste was the best I have had here. :biggrin:

I paid 198 yen ($2) for this bag.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 2 years later...

Does anyone know what "ninjin imo" are? I bought a small one, in the hopes that it's like a North American-style sweet potato. But if it's just like a regular potato, what can I do with it?

Also, if ninjin imo is more like satsumaimo, which of these potatoes might be more like NA-style sweet potatoes?

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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Does anyone know what "ninjin imo" are?  I bought a small one, in the hopes that it's like a North American-style sweet potato.  But if it's just like a regular potato, what can I do with it?

Also, if ninjin imo is more like satsumaimo, which of these potatoes might be more like NA-style sweet potatoes?

Unfortunately none of them. That picture of the ninjin imo looks really promising though! Let me know how it is.

I have been searching for American style sweet potatoes for 13 years and think I have tried every potato that has ever been sold in the markets here, including all of those in the pictures of your link.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I spent ages looking for this thread yesterday...

Potato blog in Japanese, for the truly obsessed.

According to MAFF, Japanese potato varieties, in terms of area under cultivation, ranked as follows in 2003:

Spring crop: Danshaku (30%), Konafubuki (18%), Toyoshiro, May Queen (120% approx. each), Nishi-Yutaka (5%)

Fall crop: Dejima, Nishi-Yutaka (40% approx. each), Nourin-1go, May Queen (5% approx. each)

Dejima is a floury, creamy-white potato with good flavor, Nourin-1go is grayish-white, and average in texture and flavor (largely used for non-food purposes).

Nishi-yutaka is a relative of Dejima, developed for double-cropping and the spring new potato market.

Kona-fubuki is used to make potato starch, and while it disintegrates too easily to be good for stews etc., it makes good croquettes and dumplings. (Almost all the red-skinned white-fleshed potatoes seem to be good for croquettes or mash - if you find Beni-maru etc, grab them!).

Elsewhere, I see that the new Kita-Murasaki is maybe not as desirable as the Inca Purple - the potatoes are smaller and crop earlier, but didn't score as highly in flavor. Kita Murasaki may disintegrate less easily when boiled, though not a great choice for frying. Inca Red is a salad potato, Inca Purple is more versatile.

Red-skinned Star Ruby looks like a good boiling potato, possibly better than Danshaku, and not as likely to disintegrate when boiled.

Inca no Mezame's main point seems to be very early harvest, but it scored highly in flavor, and is particularly recommended for frying.

..meanwhile, may I recommend potato pastry...easy and tasty topping for pot pies etc! I'm considering a satsuma-imo version.

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Thanks, Helen! I'm going to look for some of these at my local grocery stores. I hope some of the better ones are more readily available. I hate danshaku and May Queen, and I've pretty much stopped eating potatoes in Japan!

BTW, I just noticed your updated status. I'm probably a bit slow, but congratulations!

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Unfortunately none of them. That picture of the ninjin imo looks really promising though! Let me know how it is.

I tried a bit of the ninjin imo this morning. I cut a little up into cubes, then threw them into a pan with a little bit of water and covered the pan.

First, cutting the ninjin imo was a bit difficult. It was quite hard, and oddly, it started oxidizing as soon as it was cut. I don't remember NA-type sweet potatoes turning black like that, but it's been so long since I've had one that I could be wrong.

Second, after cooking, they look like...

wait for it....

carrots. Surprise surprise. The have a lighter coloured center, and it sort of radiates the way a carrot's center does.

They look like that before cooking, too, but when they're cooked, the outer part darkens so the difference in colour becomes accentuated.

And they taste sort of like...

carrots.

They're more like NA-type sweet potatoes than satsuma imo, but they're not really like NA-type sweet potatoes. They're not as stringy as satsuma imo, which is good, but they're harder than NA-type sweet potatoes when cooked. But that could just be because I didn't cook them as long as I should have. They don't seem to be as sweet, either, but they do have a mild sweetness. That might just be my eyes helping fool my taste buds, though (they look more like sweet potatoes so they taste more like sweet potatoes??).

Still, I think they'd be an OK substitute for NA-type sweet potatoes, or at least a better substitute than satsuma imo, if mostly for the colour. I'll try baking the bit I have left with brown sugar and butter. That will be the real test.

I took pictures, but I forgot to download them while I was at work, and I still can't find my downloader thing. That will have to wait until Monday!

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I baked the rest of my tiny ninjin imo with some butter and brown sugar. It's not quite like sweet potatoes, but I think it's an OK substitute. I would buy it again if I ever had another craving for sweet potatoes. It wouldn't be perfect, but it would be good enough.

I think my mother is going to try to sneak some sweet potatoes into the country for me. I can't wait until Christmas!

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  • 1 month later...

Instead of going to yoga, I stayed home to make triple-cooked fries using some Kita-Akari potatoes. Big mistake! They sort of fell apart during the boiling part, but I went ahead with the first fry (130C). They held up OK, I guess, but the second fry was a disaster! I put the first batch in at 190C, and the oil boiled over! That has never happened when I used May Queen potatoes! I think I lost 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil.

They still crisped up and browned nicely, but since there were no whole pieces, and only a few little pieces, I had to eat most of the "fries" with a spoon. It was mostly potato crumbs, I guess, but I kind of liked it. Lots of crispy little bits mixed with some kosher salt...yum!

I'll try danshuku, next, unless someone can recommend a better widely available potato that can be both boiled and fried. May Queen, by the way, also falls apart, but not nearly as much as the Kita-Akari ones, and it doesn't cause my oil to boil over.

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Kita Akari are notorious for falling apart! They are so soft and fluffy that they make wonderful mash or croquettes though.

Even Danshaku are sturdier than Kita Akari, but you might want to try one of the cultivars that have "kogane" in their names if you spot one.

May Queen won't fall apart, but it may not be the perfect texture!

I can't help much, because when I make fries I usually make wedges rather than fries, and a good proportion of sweet potato fries too.

Hints on French fries.

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I'm a convert to corn after making a mizuna pesto pizza, though I skip the mayo and keep the toppings somewhat light.

http://blog.jagaimo.com/archive/2007/06/01...esto-pizza.aspx

Since I'm fond of potato in my crust, I've learned to like sliced potato and rosemary on my pizza as well. It's actually somewhat easy to find potato as a topping in the Seattle area.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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  • 6 months later...

I found my perfect potato!

I bought some Nishi-Yutaka potatoes grown in Nakasaki-ken. So far I've only made hash browns and a sort of potato galette, and I really love them. I want to try making baked potatoes and fries, but I only have one left! And they've disappeared from my local Ikari!

Where oh where have my potatoes gone?

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