Do You Know What This Is? Mukago

Mukago Gohan or Yummy Yam Rice

By Anisa Kazemi
November 11, 2016
Food & Drink

I first came across mukago (yam tubercles) at an organic Japanese restaurant in the heart of the woods of Chizu in Tottori Prefecture. The traditional spot is known for using local, organic and seasonal produce. As in, very, very local.

We’re talking tempura’d tree leaves and freshly-caught river fish.

It made sense then that in November, wild and autumnal mukago were on the menu. At first look, I thought them beans or another kind of dark legume. But after a closer look and then a sample, much to my surrounding company’s surprise, I squealed: “Baby potatoes!”

mukago-2Mukago, which look and taste like slightly bitter pea-sized potatoes are actually the tiny aerial tubers (or bulbils) of the “yama-imo” (Japanese yam) plant. Believed to be native to Japan, Korea and China, during the autumn months, mukago grow abundantly in Japanese mountains, alongside rivers and thick forest edges, or occasionally in metropolis parks and backyards.

Processed with VSCO with c3 presetIn Japanese cuisine, mukago are often prepared with white rice, as yours truly first encountered them, in mukago-gohan or in English: “Japanese flavoured rice with yam tubercles.”

Since then, I have experimented much with mukago. Truly a “baby potato,” mukago are good steamed, boiled, fried, baked in a toaster oven, or even eaten raw. In addition, mukago contain vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C as well as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, too.

Mukago-gohan

Making mukago-gohan is incredibly easy. Actually, I can hardly call it a recipe at all. All you need to do is to follow a 100g raw mukago to 2 cups of white rice ratio, then to cook the rice (with salt and water) in the rice cooker as per usual. Serve however and with whatever you like!

mukago-lead

Told you it was simple – enjoy!

Persian-kiwi Anisa (born in Iran, raised in NZ) came to Japan for the tofu. Her favorite word is "shemomedjamo." It's a Georgian word describing the many an occasion when your stomach is really truly full but the food is so damn delicious that you just can't resist but to eat more. It loosely translates to "I accidently ate the whole thing" — which also happens to be the title of her blog where she loves discussing food and sharing recipes of her own. But before you think she's a glutton, know that it's all super healthy and good for you.

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