Imo Yokan (芋羊羹)

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    INTRODUCTION TO IMO YOKAN

    potato yokan

    Imo Yokan is a traditional Japanese jelly dessert that has an ingredient of sweet potato and sugar. Additionally, this wagashi is famous in the autumn season. You can get a lot of sweet potatoes, pumpkins, persimmons, and chestnuts during the fall season. Imo Yokan is usually served in rectangular bite-size slices. Also, it has a normal shelf life of 7 days.

    Although it is called a “yokan”, the ingredients used are completely different from the regular yokan. It is made from whole sweet potatoes, kneaded with sugar, and then shaped using a mold. Because the sugar content of imo yokan is much lower than that of ordinary yokan, it spoils quickly. While the shelf life of a typical yokan is more than a month, the shelf life of imo yokan is only a couple of days.

    In addition, most people usually pair this with green tea.

    ETYMOLOGY

    imoyokan in diff colors

    Since we already have Youkan on our previous post, the word Youkan is 羊羹 in Chinese/Japanese Kanji which contains both the Chinese character for “sheep” (羊) and “broth” (羹). It was called ‘sheep soup’. Imou/Imo in Kanji is 芋. It means potato or sweet potato. That is why it is called as sweet potato yokan.

    WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF IMO YOKAN?

    standard imo yokan

    During the period from 1897 to 1902, Wasuke Kobayashi was a potato wholesaler in Asakusa Kotobuki-cho (present-day Kotobuki, Taito Ward, Tokyo). To make good use of the waste potatoes that were difficult to dispose, he tried to make Yokan with different taste from bean jelly made with agar and sugar. He approached to Sadakichi, the second generation of Japanese sweet shop ‘Funasada’ in Asakusa. Then Imo Yokan was completed by joint development.

    Afterwards, Wasuke learned from Sadakichi how to make Imo Yokan. Wasuke founded ‘Funawa’ in Asakusa, the name of which was made by taking one character from each of ‘Funasada’ and ‘Wasuke.’ In addition, Sadakichi and Wasuke used a character of ‘Fune’ because two came from Funabashi-cho (the current Funabashi City, Chiba Prefecture). Then, Sadakichi moved to Ashikaga-cho (present-day Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture) with his family, and thus ‘Funasada’ moved to Ashikaga.

    Nowadays, Imo Yokan has spread all over Japan and is familiar as a special product of sweet potato production areas such as Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture.

    IS IMO YOKAN SUITABLE FOR DIET?

    health benefits

    Generally, Imo yokan has low sugar and calorie content than in regular Yokan and in other Japanese sweets. But it is not so low in sugar that it can be for sugar restriction. If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, try not to overeat, such as by cutting it thinly even if you eat it.

    Imo yokan is about an estimated 18.3g of sugar per slice (50g). It has an ingredients such as sweet potatoes, sugar, and salt. Sugar and sweet potatoes are high in sugar, so Imo yokan inevitably has high sugar.

    Calories are about 79 kcal per slice. Sweet potatoes weigh 132 kcal per 100g, which is high in calories among vegetables. However, it is moderate when viewed as whole food. Depending on the amount of sugar used, the calories will not be that high.

    Of course, if you eat too much, you may be over-calorie, but it’s much easier to eat than if you’re on a low-carb diet. Moreover, eating moderately must apply for a proper diet as it is not much recommended for dieting.

    WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS OF IMO YOKAN?

    imo yokan in box

    Making this sweet potato yokan is actually easy. You can also find the ingredients almost everywhere and is usually available in the supermarkets. Here are ingredients for Imo Yokan:

    Sweet potato500 g
    Sugar120 g
    Powder agar2.3 tsp
    Water250 ml

    WHAT IS THE RECIPE OF IMO YOKAN?

    recipe
    STEP
    Slice sweet potatoes

    Firstly, cut the sweet potatoes into 2cm thick slices, peel the skin thickly, expose them to water.

    STEP
    Boil

    Put sweet potato in plenty of water, when it boils, throw away the water again. Then, put water again, boil it softly, raise it to the zaru (draining basket made from bamboo), and quickly put it back while it is hot.

    STEP
    Put Agar

    Next is put the Agar and water in a saucepan. Dissolve then add sugar.

    STEP
    Mix together

    Add the sweet potato and dissolved agar and mix. Cool, harden it, and cut it into rectangle sizes.

    STEP
    You’re done!

    Finally! Now you’ve made sweet potato yokan, don’t forget it share it with your family and friends!

    WHAT ARE THE RECOMMENDED SHOPS OF IMO YOKAN?

    Funawa

    Funawa is an old Japanese yokan shop that specializes in imo yokan. It was established in 1902 and continues to serve the delicious sweet potato dessert in many branches around Tokyo and other parts of Japan.

    Address: 1-22-10 Asakusa, taito-ku, tokyo
    Business Hours:
    Contact number:
    Price Range: from 648-1,296 yen
    Website: https://funawa.jp/

    Nishi-Sugamo Tosaya

    This store was founded in Nishi-Sugamo, Tokyo in 1938. It is famous for its sweet potato yokan made using the old-fashioned manufacturing method. Additionally, the signature product, which is Imo Yokan is crushed and used without breaking the sweet potato’s original taste of the potato.

    Address: 4-31-8 NISHI-SUGAMO, TOSHIMA-KU, TOKYO (DAIMARU TOKYO) 1-9-1 MARUNOUCHI, CHIYODA-KU, TOKYO B1F
    Business Hours: 10:00-17:30
    Contact number: 03-3917-7228
    Price Range: from 1,980-2,150 yen
    Website: https://tosaya-tokyo.jimdofree.com/

    Imoya’s First Senjiro

    The shop’s specialty store of creative potato confectionery near kawagoe’s symbol “toki no kane”. Imo Yokan is a dish made by straining a selection of sweet potatoes and finishing with only a little sugar and salt. You can enjoy two flavors of plain and moist purple potato with a hokuhoku texture.

    Address: 2-2-4 Motomachi, Kawagoe city, Saitama Prefecture
    Business Hours: 10:00-18:00
    Contact number: 049-222-8777
    Price Range: from 1,620 yen
    Website: https://www.saikaan-ooki.com/

    Ikashi Matsuya

    It is a long-established japanese confectionery shop in Joyo city, Kyoto. Ikashi Matsuya prospered as a post town in the Edo period. Matsuya’s specialty which is Imo yokan is a traditional dish that is carefully piled up and finished in a moist and smooth texture.

    Address: Ikekita Shimizu 27, Mayor of Joyo, Kyoto Prefecture
    Business Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m
    Contact number: 0774-52-0031
    Price Range: from 702 yen
    Website: http://kyoto-matsuya.co.jp/

    CONCLUSION

    In conclusion, Imo Yokan was not in the mouth of common people before. However, Imo yokan was commercialized because people thought it would be a waste to throw away the surplus of sweet potatoes. If you love to eat Japanese sweets with a low count of sugar compared to other wagashi, this may be a good option. Also, who doesn’t love Sweet Potatoes right? If you’re a fan of potatoes, generally, you would love to have Imo Yokan. Funawa Imo Yokan is indeed one of the famous Imo Yokan that is loved by many. No wonder why it is also one of most favorite souvenirs of tourists. The quality is really high and the manufacturing method is also well-done. They also have the impression that they carefully selected the sweet potatoes since there’s no unpleasant taste.

    Additionally, you can also try to bake in the oven to add some roasted potato taste. You can also try to fry Imo Yokan in to make a Western-style taste.

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