Daigaku Imo (Japanese Caramelized Sweet Potatoes)

“Daigaku Imo” is a Japanese dish name that literally means “University Sweet Potatoes” in English. The name ??? derives from the fact that it was popular in college towns during the Taisho (1912-1926) and Showa (1926-1989) period.

I remember having it for the first time in the university I went to in Japan way back in 1996, how I got addicted to it and had it almost every day during autumn because it’s sweet potato season. Cooking this at home always gives me that fuzzy nostalgic feeling of my stay in Japan.

It is a very filling and delicious snack that everyone would love, especially kids! And the fact that it is very easy to make makes it a real winner! Our main problem living here in Dubai is with the main ingredient – the sweet potatoes. Unlike when we were living in Japan where we can just pick a sweet potato in the supermarket with eyes closed yet guaranteed of that superb taste, it is pretty difficult to choose a good quality sweet potato here in Dubai. Most are imported from India or Sri Lanka, aged and lost that fresh firmness. It is always a trial and error here.

But, if you find a good sweet potato, try this and enjoy!

Recipe: Daigaku Imo (Japanese Caramelized Sweet Potatoes)


  • 400 grams sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • dash of black sesame seeds


  1. Wash the potatoes (I lightly pare them with steel sponge to remove dirt but retain most of the skin) and cut sweet potatoes in desired bite sizes and soak them in water.
  2. Drain water and pat the sweet potatoes with paper towel.
  3. Arrange the sweet potatoes in a medium sized frying pan.
  4. Turn on the heat to medium and add oil and sugar. Cover the pan to steam cook the sweet potatoes.
  5. The sugar will melt with the heated oil and start to stick to the sweet potatoes, just keep on stirring and turning the potatoes on all its sides.
  6. It is done when the sweet potatoes turn golden brown or a toothpick goes through it when inserted.
  7. Transfer to plate (draining the excess oil) and sprinkle with black sesame seeds before serving.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10-12 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 2 (depending on appetite!)

Other versions in the internet include, deep frying the potatoes and then coating them with the sugar mixture as featured in one of my favorite Japanese food blogs, Just Hungry. I just use my version as it uses less oil and just as tasty!

Note (of caution): The fiber content in the sweet potatoes almost always guarantees farting but I tell you, it is the worthiest fart you’d have in your entire life.


  1. HI Grace,

    The farmer behind our house started harvesting the sweet potatos last week.

    Trivia time. When talking to the farmer, I learned that the farmer has to let the sweet potato sit for around two weeks to sweeten.

    Look forward to trying this recipe after the farmer give is sweetened potatoes!!!!!




  2. My friend made me this a few years ago and it was so yummy. I am in a Japanese culture/language study class and we are planning an outing so I wanted to bring a snack in theme. I am super excited to make it, and thanks for the clip of history about it! (And also… “it is the worthiest fart you?d have in your entire life” I can’t stop laughing, hahaha!)



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