Do You Know What This Is? Mukago
Mukago Gohan or Yummy Yam Rice
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, 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.
In 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.
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!
Told you it was simple – enjoy!