- Main lore areas
The whole prefecture
- Main ingredients used
Sweet potato stalk, tempura (Satsuma-age)
- History/origin/related events
In Kochi Prefecture, there is a food culture of eating sweet potatoes and pumpkin stems. The stem is the "petiole" that connects the leaves to the stem. When you say "Imo no kuki (potato stem)" dish, it is generally made with sweet potato stems. The climate of Kochi Prefecture has a lot to do with the fact that the locals started eating stems. Due to the hot and humid climate of Kochi Prefecture, the stems of sweet potatoes and pumpkins flourish in the fields during the summer months. Farmers used the stems for food, and it has spread as a wisdom of living. Nowadays, it is readily available at supermarkets in urban areas and is eaten by ordinary households, but reportedly this is a trend that began to emerge after the migration of people from rural areas to the cities. Farming housewives used to peel the stems of sweet potatoes and sell them at the Sunday market. The stems were important for the family's finances, as they generated additional income from them. Because of the vestiges of this, there is still a common phrase among the elderly, "Come on, let's peel off Imo no kuki (sweet potato stems)" after spending money.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Stems of sweet potatoes were eaten during the off-season when summer vegetables were hard to find. During the war, sweet potato stems were eaten as a snack.
The custom of eating the stems, which is unique to Kochi Prefecture, has been handed down to this day and is a familiar dish in many households. Prepared stalks are also sold to the general public for easy home cooking.
- How to eat
The stems are characterized by their crunchy texture. The texture and flavor of the stems differ depending on the vegetable, such as sweet potatoes and pumpkins, but they are all used in stir-fries, stews, tofu paste, and other dishes. Because they are colorful, they also go well with gomokuzushi (five-stringed sushi).
In the case of sweet potatoes, the soft part of the branching end of the vine-like stem is eaten.
Peel the stem of the sweet potato and boil it. Saute the pre-boiled sweet potato stems in a pot. After lightly sauteing, boil them in soup stock and add seasonings such as sugar and soy sauce. Finish by garnishing with a small red pepper cut into small pieces.
Tempura (in Kochi Prefecture, tempura is deep-fried fish paste called satsuma-age) is often added to this dish.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Tempura is still eaten on a daily basis. Some stems sold at supermarkets and direct sales outlets are pre-boiled and ready to be cooked.
source : Agricultural Products Marketing Strategy Division, Agricultural Promotion Department, Kochi Prefecture / Tosa Traditional Food Study Group