What is Nagaimo?

Everything you ever wanted to know about nagaimo. Starting with, “What is it?”

Nagaimo is a nutrient-rich tuber than can be cooked like a potato and is loaded with health benefits. Its texture is crunchy and somewhat sticky. And raw food aficionados will appreciate that nagaimo is just as good fresh out of the ground or fresh out of the oven.

Add to those traits the fact that it’s low calorie, high protein, and full of potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B1, polyphenol, peroxidases, and more. It’s no wonder Aomori-grown nagaimo is so popular in Japan, where it is harvested in both spring and fall. The Japanese have enjoyed it as both a treat and a health food since ancient times. With these tips, you can enjoy it as something entirely new and delicious to add to your menu.

Choosing Nagaimo

Fresh nagaimo have a smooth, flawless surface. When you cut it, the surface should be white and moist. Good nagaimo is thick, heavy, and firm with few fibrous roots. The skin should be without bumps, bruises, or discoloration.

Cooking Nagaimo

Too much heat can lessen the nutritional value by impacting the digestive enzyme amylase found in nagaimo. So try to use as little heat as possible when preparing it.

Handling Nagaimo

Some people may experience itching when handling nagaimo due to an allergic reaction. If this happens, apply lemon juice or rinse the area with diluted vinegar to soothe. You can prevent itching by soaking nagaimo in vinegar water before cooking.

In comparison, a potato falls short.
Storing Nagaimo

  • Whole nagaimo should be wrapped up in newspaper and stored in a dark, cool place in order to remain fresh longer.

  • Cut nagaimo should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, so that cut edges are covered. Once cut, store it in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.

  • For convenience, grated or shredded nagaimo can be kept in a freezer and broken off when needed. Just place it flat into a storage container first. Frozen nagaimo can last up to about four weeks.

  • Sprouting Nagaimo

    You can eat sprouting nagaimo simply by removing the sprouts. But since the sprouts use nutrients contained in the nagaimo to grow, it is best to remove them and cook the nagaimo as early as possible for the maximum health benefits.