Nagaimo / Yamaimo
ながいも / やまいも
長芋 / 山芋
What is it?
Nagaimo is a type of mountain yam. It has a thin light brown skin with small hair-like roots protruding from it. It is much softer than other root vegetables and has a slimy texture when grated. The root vegetable is also known as yamaimo.
How can it be eaten?
The vegetable is prepared by peeling the skin to reveal a creamy-white flesh that has little fragrance and a sticky texture. Some people may experience mild itching when handling nagaimo. The itchiness can be relieved by applying lemon juice or rinsing the area with vinegared water.
For most Japanese recipes, nagaimo is grated, eaten raw or lightly cooked. When grated, nagaimo forms a white gooey sauce called tororo. Tororo can be added to bowls of warmed rice and over hot or cold soba/ udon noodles to make a dish called tororo soba/ udon. Tororo is also a common ingredient in the raw batter of okonomiyaki where it acts like a binding agent and gives the cooked dish a softer and more fluffy texture.
Nagaimo can also be sautéed, fried, roasted, stewed and added raw to salads. If nagaimo is to be added raw to a dish, the cut vegetable should first be briefly soaked in a vinegar-water solution to prevent it from turning a red-brownish colour.