Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beni-imo 紅芋

In Japan, schools often take their class trip to Okinawa, a subtropical island a stone's throw from Taiwan.  One of the better known vegetables from Okinawa is purple sweet potatoes, known as beni-imo or murasaki-imo in Japanese.  I found them at the market today so they're officially in season!  Purple sweet potatoes are awesome because they're bright purple.  How many natural foods can claim that?  They have a milder taste than orange sweet potatoes but can be used in all the same ways.  I've even made purple sweet potato pie from these potatoes which made the pie look like it was radioactively glowing.  Kick ass!

Outside of Japan, I have heard more and more markets are carrying purple sweet potatoes.  So take a look around or ask your local farmers at the farmers' market.  Maybe if you pique their interest enough they'll look into growing them!

How to Prepare
Same way you would any potato:

Easy Beni-imo Recipe
When your star ingredient is such a cool color, you want a way to showcase it!

Jazzed Up Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 2-3

Prep Time: About 30 mins

  • 2 large purple sweet potatoes, either roasted in the oven or cooked in the microwave
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon togarashi
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1.5 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro OPTIONAL
1. Cut open sweet potatoes and scoop out their innards into a bowl.
2. Add rest of the ingredients.  Mash together until well blended.
3. Serve!

I really like these potatoes with some pork chops or chicken that has been marinated in some sort of cumin marinade.


  1. Hey Kyle, its GREEN JAY. Wow, I love the purple sweet potato!! Why the heck aren't these popular in the us, or at least a project of NCSU sweet potato genetics? As you may know, the not closely related potato comes in many colors as well, including blue. I've been playing with them this week. They are best baked or roasted.

    Although I'm certain your recipe is delicous, the finished product reminds me vaguely of poi, which is certainly not delicous!

    oh yeah, whats togarashi?

  2. Love love, love this Kyle-chan!

  3. Yeah seriously! NCSU needs to get on the ball! I would definitely buy purple sweet potatoes if you could get them in the States easily.

    Togarashi is just dried cayenne pepper :)