Japanese sweet potatoes are small to medium in size and are long, slender, and irregularly shaped with tapered ends. The skin is brown with a distinct red undertone and also has small, shallow eyes found across the surface. The flesh is firm, dense, and creamy white to pale yellow, and the color deepens to a golden hue when cooked. Japanese sweet potatoes offer a nutty, slightly floral flavor with hints of chestnut and caramel and a drier, starchier texture than other sweet potato varieties.
Japanese sweet potatoes contain fiber, thiamin, vitamins A and C, and trace amounts of protein.
Japanese sweet potatoes are best suited for cooked applications such as roasting, baking, boiling, stir-frying, and steaming, and are often consumed with the skin on. Japanese sweet potatoes are popularly used in tempura, curries, stews, and soups. A very common dish is Imo Gohan, where Japanese sweet potatoes are sliced or cubed and steamed along with rice, flavoring it with its sweetness. Daigaku Imo, another popular dish, cubes, deep-fries, and candies the sweet potato in a syrup of sugar and soy sauce, and is sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Complementary flavorings and pairings for Japanese sweet potatoes include vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, miso, scallions, carrots, apples, and chestnuts. Japanese sweet potatoes will keep up to a week when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.