Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Killer Imoten (Deep-fried Sweet Potatoes)


Imoten (Batter-fried Sweet Potato) from the Sunday Market

Ask someone in Kochi city this question, “Do you like imoten sold at the Sunday market?” You’ll quite likely get, “Oh yeah! I love it!” type of response with a heartwarming smile on his/her face.

This everyone’s favorite, "imoten" is simple batter-fried sweet potatoes. “Imo” means potatoes and “ten” came from tempura. It’s the kind of food that is so simple and yet so good that you never get tired of. I can’t help craving for it once in a while. (Well, maybe twice a month.) Preparation is awfully easy -- all you have to do is to peel and chop up sweet potatoes, dip in batter and deep-fry. That’s it. But It’s also the kind of food that anyone can make at home but often ends up saying, “But I can’t do it like they do.”

Walking through the Sunday market, you can find a stall where they deep-fry imoten (and other kind of tempura, too) right in front of you and sell them hot. When locals in Kochi say “Sunday market imoten,” it means the ones sold at this stall.

I guess the secret of the great taste is the kind of sweet potatoes they use. Imoten from this stall is soooo sweet and ”hoku-hoku.” (How can I explain “hoku-hoku” in English? It’s not just “dry,” I suppose.) I also assume that they add something to the batter to make it slightly sweet and a bit chewy but not too heavy. Maybe sugar and possibly a bit of soy sauce as a hidden flavor?? I don’t know…

The lady at the stall told me that they have been selling imoten for about 30 years at the Sunday/Thursday market. Their imoten is widely known now, being included in many guidebooks and websites, and you often see customers standing in line in front of the stall.
It's just something you don't want to miss.

8 comments:

KT121 said...

The killer imoten!Mmmm...

The batter of shop-bought imoten often tastes a little sweet,a bit like what they call "tempura" in southeast asia which I think is more like "fritter"??I've always wondered how they do it.

I'd like to know what "hoku-hoku" in English is!It's always difficult to explain...

carlyn said...

obachan;
This is a market every Sunday??? Thru the winter, too? You are just soooooo lucky....
mmmmmmm....imoten looks fabulous....

Robyn said...

That looks sooo good...*weeps*

obachan said...

KT121
I heard that some people add a little mayonnaise to tempura batter to make it crispy, but I don’t think that’d make it sweeter. Anyway, I’m glad to find another person who feels the same way about the Japanese word, “hoku-hoku.” I sometimes say “chestnut-like”to explain what "hoku-hoku" means, but I always feel that’s not exactly it…

carlyn
Yep. Every Sunday, through the winter, too. ;) Lucky ne!

Robyn
It is good. Wish you could come and take a bite.

glutton rabbit said...

Bachan!
Mmmm...imoten looks delicious. We have imoten too in Malaysia. They are usually sold at the fried banana stalls and eaten during tea time as a snack. Overhere, the Sweet potatoes are thinly sliced, dipped in batter and fried. The batter is on the crunchy side...

I know what you mean by hoku hoku. But I also have difficulty to find the right english word for it... tender maybe? or soft and moist?
al dente? LOL

obachan said...

Hmmm...sounds like the word hoku-hoku is used in a slightly different way over here. It's rather the opposite of "soft and moist."

Kiarill said...

Imoten!! So you have that in Japan too! In Singapore, it's sold the same way in Japan. Sometimes the batter is salty, sometimes sweet [depends on the stall].

I think the hoku-hoku you mean is something like chestnut, just that it's a bit drier? or maybe crispier.. >< english can be so inadequate sometimes.. T_T

Lucky Japanese! I hope I'll be able to experience wonderful Japan to the fullest when I go!

obachan said...

Hi Kiarill,
Thanks for your comment. I want to try your imoten someday (I'm really thinking about visiting Singapore someday).
Yeah, hoku-hoku, can be like chestnut, except that I think chestnut is a bit chewier than "hoku-hoku" sweet potatoes.
Anyway, hope you have a chance to visit Japan and have a good time. ;)