Today we will try something from Tanegashima 種子島, an island off the southern coast of Kagoshima prefecture. This is a continuation of “Island Mama’s homemade cooking” section.

I will introduce karaimo-sen: karaimo からいも is the name for satsuma-imo さつま芋 in Tanegashima, which is a type of sweet potato. Karaimosen からいもせん is the name for the starch that is made from these satsuma-imo (in Japanese, starch is でん粉 denko). From this, they are turned into starchy fried dumplings. A hearty and simple snack or even turn it into a meal, this is a nice dish easily made at home.

There are different ways you can make a traditional dish of Tanegashima; one option is completely from scratch, and the other is using already processed potato starch from the bag at the grocery store. I will introduce both ways, thanks to a website that described the process in Japanese, but I have only made from the powder before. Looks like I will need to do some experimenting in the kitchen soon and try making this from scratch.

First the easy way!

Karaimosen からいもせん:

sweet potato starch, 1 cup
Water, 1.2 cup
Peanut sauce: peanuts, shoyu, vinegar, sugar in equal amounts (or to taste)

Mix the starch and water. Put a little oil in a frying pan and heat, add the starch-water mixture. Cook until transparent (flipping over to cook both sides), let it become a little grilled (I love having some crispy little edges if possible). When all the way cooked, cut into bite sized pieces, top with some peanut sauce and enjoy. You could also use ginger instead of peanuts.

If you want to make something a little fancier, perhaps more of a main dish, you can serve with some some boiled (or maybe even fried if you so desire) vegetables such as kabocha, bamboo shoots, konnyaku, shiitake, or other Asian vegetarian favorites, and instead of peanut sauce, some sort of shoyu and ginger mixture. The article also mentions using it in a sukiyaki or other soup stock sort of dish.


If you find yourself in possession of some satsuma-imo and want to try making this from scratch…

From scratch:

It may be helpful to refer to this website (in Japanese), there are pictures. When I get around to making this, I will take some pictures of the process.

English Instructions:

Take satsuma-imo, clean and peel. Cut into smallish chip-size pieces and add along with water to a blender/juicer (you can hand grate this instead). Strain the liquid into a bowl using a cloth (such as cheesecloth with fine mesh to separate the solids from the liquid). This liquid is what precipitates the starch; this takes a few hours. Once you have the starch, discard the liquid, and dry the starch in the sun. Now it is ready to use.

Previous recipes of “Island Mama’s homemade cooking” news article:

Ojiki-jima recipe: bouburazouse ぼうぶらぞうせ

Yonaguni-jima recipe: Sakuna shiraae サクナの白和え

Let us know what you think!