food 4 tots

Nagaimo and shrimp paste

nagaimo, shrimp, prawn, huai san, toddlers, steaming


Recently, after hurting my right elbow, I was “forced” to cut down lots of my personal activities (blogging, baking and photo-shooting), except for cooking and routine housework. Felt like being handcuffed! Luckily it’s just a minor injury. Now I’m about 90% recovered and much of the inconveniences I had to put up with are nearly gone. Yay! Just can’t wait for full recovery and getting back to my regular activities.


While my readers in the northern hemisphere are enjoying their hot summer, the tropical climate in Singapore is getting unbearable of late. It’s not just hot, but highly humid as well that causes you to be sweaty and sticky. My tiny flat becomes hot and stuffy as evening approaches as sunlight beams directly into the living room. Oh gosh! My son and I felt like being “cooked” by the heat. Clearly, when it comes to cooking dinner, any dish that requires firing up the stove or heating up the oven is a no-no to me for now. I opt for steaming method instead. Less cooking, less washing and healthier too! If you browse through my “ALL RECIPES” page, you will find many healthy and delicious meals that you can easily whip up using steaming method.


nagaimo, yam, huai san, Chinese


Nagaimo (Japanese mountain yam) is a tuber, and a type of yam that can be cooked in ways similar to that for potato. Unlike potato, it has a very refreshing and less starchy taste. To the Japanese, it is even be eaten raw and grated, an exception to the rule that yam must be cooked before consumption. It is also referred as 淮山(huai san) or 山药(shan yao) and commonly used (in its dried form) for medical purposes in traditional Chinese medicine.


Nagaimo is low in calories, high in protein, and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Apart from its nutritional value,  it is also known to reduce high blood pressure, regulate digestion and relieve fatigue. You can find nagaimo at the wet markets, supermarkets or Japanese specialty stores.  


When peeling or touching nagaimo, some people may experience itching due to allergic reaction. You can soothe the itching by applying lemon juice to the itching part or rinsing off the substance with diluted vinegar. To prevent itching, you can soak nagaimo in vinegar diluted water before cooking and wear a pair of kitchen gloves as further pre-caution.


nagaimo, shrimp, prawn, huai san, toddlers, steaming


Before that, I only used nagaimo to make soup such as fresh huai san soup and liu wei soup. It was a pleasant surprise to chance upon a steamed  nagaimo recipe from a cookbook. After some reseaches, I discovered that nagaimo is very versatile in its usage. It can be made into salad, entrees and even desserts. You will find the recipes from this link.


This is my first attempt pairing nagaimo with shrimp paste. Nagaimo yields a crunchy texture if steamed lightly, but turns softer and smoother when steamed over a longer period. During steaming, the juice flowing out of the marinated shrimp paste gets soaked up by nagaimo, thus adding extra flavour to its otherwise bland taste. This healthy yet tasty dish goes very well with rice. My hubby commented that it’s classy enough to be served as an entrée in a high-end restaurant or as finger food at dinner parties.  Hope your family will enjoy this dish. Happy trying!!


nagaimo, shrimp, prawn, yam


How to choose nagaimo:
- Choose fresh nagaimo that is thick, heavy and firm with few fibrous roots. The skin should be smooth and flawless (ie no bumps, bruises or discolouration.) (Source: click here)


Other reading references:
- Amori Nagaimo
- About Amori Nagaimo
- Nagaimo: The Wonderful Japanese Vegetable

>>>>> Click on PAGE 2 BELOW for Nagaimo and shrimp paste recipe………

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63 Comments

  1. Hope you will recover very soon. This dish sound really healthy and yummy!

  2. gertrude says:

    I love this root vegetable. All I used it for is soup. Great idea to steam it too. Do you have problem peeling it. I find it too slimy to peel and I will have to hold it with paper towel :)

    • food-4tots says:

      Gertrude: Yes, if you use bare hands. Usually I wear a pair of kitchen gloves to hold the nagaimo. Maybe soaking it in vinegar diluted water will help too. ;)

  3. Alice says:

    I love fresh huai san soup! This recipe is awesome and can’t wait to try it out! :D

    • food-4tots says:

      Alice: Thanks! Nagaimo is a very versatile vegetable. Do check out those recipes in the link. Maybe it will give you more ideas to create your own dish. ;)

  4. Christine says:

    Hope your elbow is all better now… beautiful photos! Doubt I can find this vegetable in Australia but good to learn more about new varieties!

  5. mycookinghut says:

    I have never heard of nagaimo.. nor use in my cooking. I love this dish that is so pretty and full of goodness!

  6. tigerfish says:

    How I enjoy nagaimo….tried stir-frying and in soup before…ok…steaming next :)

    It is hot here too but not so humid. Luckily.

    • food-4tots says:

      Tigerfish: I got to try the stir-fry method too. The weather here is so unpredictable. Today it rained heavy in the morning and flash flood everywhere. :(

  7. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Dinsmore, Low Lai Kuan. Low Lai Kuan said: New post! Nagaimo and shrimp paste – a healthy and delicious dish for the family! http://fb.me/D4I58bG6 [...]

  8. Joanne says:

    It’s too bad you couldn’t give up housework instead of blogging! I’m glad you’re feeling better though! I love nagaimo…especially the way you prepared it here!

    • food-4tots says:

      Joanne: I don’t have maid or back-up so there is no way to avoid houseworks (can minimise it only). That’s the life of a stay at home mom! LOL! Thanks for your sweet comment. ;)

  9. anncoo says:

    I must bookmark this as your dishes always look so perfect and delicious.
    Take care and have a nice weekend.

  10. LCOM says:

    Beautiful dish! This is really healthy but my hubby and girls are not so into it.

    • food-4tots says:

      LCOM: Thanks! You can cook/ eat Nagaimo in many ways. Take a look at the link I provided to get some ideas on how to create your own favourite dish using Nagaimo. ;)

  11. Hope you’re getting well soon.
    I seldom see any fresh Japanese mountain yam here, just the dried, imported ones. I like to cook them in Chinese soups, very healthy.

  12. Beautiful dish! Your hubby is right … the presentation is absolutely CLASSY! Love it. Hope you are well.

  13. peachkins says:

    very interesting..I don’t think I’ve had nagaimo yet..

  14. Meldylocks says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing this! I learnt a lot and love your blog!!

  15. Very nutritious, healthy and yummy! A simple but very beautiful presentation.

  16. NKOTB says:

    Hope you’re feeling better though 90% recovery, you still gotta be extra careful too. :)

  17. Glad to hear that you are getting better! The presentation is beautiful!

  18. By the time of reading this, hope you are 100% recovered : ).
    I think you have turned the healthy yam, which is supposed to be bland in taste, into an appetizing food.

    • food-4tots says:

      TasteHongKong: Thanks for your kind concern. Still not 100% recovered yet. :( Yeah, this recipe is a better way for those who dislike its bland taste. ;)

  19. Oh dear, hope you recover soon!

  20. Wow! Your presentation and food looks so gourmet like. I feel like I am in a fine dining restaurant! Lovely! Btw, the summer heat is killing me here but I guess I should be happy it is not humid.

  21. Little Inbox says:

    Hope you’ll have a speedy recovery. So coincident, I plan to cook this too, but can’t find wai san in the market. :(
    NVM, I’ll try it out next time. I learned it from a cooking show.

  22. Anh says:

    Such a lovely recipe. We don’t have this kind of tube veg here though :(

  23. Dora says:

    Interesting combination.

    Have only tried Nagaimo in soups…

  24. LK: It looks amazing! Immediately made me think of Taste Paradise =) And you always use the most interesting veggies!

  25. Your husband is right–you’ve presented it beautifully! Sounds like a lovely dish.

    Hope you’re completely recovered soon!

  26. jo says:

    Hope you are better now. I must say that this dish looks so gorgeous – I’m staring at it non-stop. I love the presentation and the photos are absolutely beautiful.

  27. sweetlife says:

    I hope you feel better, great recipe…lovely presentation as always , I love learning abut new foods, nagaimo sounds wonderful

    sweetlife

  28. noobcook says:

    This looks like a super healthy and delicious dish. Love the close up shots. Hope your elbow is full recovered by now =)

    • food-4tots says:

      Noobcook: Thanks for your sweet comments! Unfortunately my elbow is still not fully recovered yet. Wiffy, I highly recommend you to give it a try since you can easily find nagaimo in Singapore. ;)

  29. baobabs says:

    This looks amazing. I eat alot of shanyao here in Beijing because it’s ‘good for health’ but I don’t like that sticky texture when eating them raw. The restaurants always serve them like mash potato and it’s got the same sticky consistency of lady’s finger… a vegetable that I really like.. but with shanyao. WIll have a go at this dish!

    Hope your injury has recovered and you can be back in the kitchen!

    • food-4tots says:

      Baobabs: Thanks for your kind comments! I do hope I can recover soon so that I can bake some bread. Serrve them like mash potato? Sounds interesting? Got to give it a try next time. Thanks for the idea! ;)

  30. Carolyn Jung says:

    This is beyond gorgeous. I feel like I should don pearls and opera gloves to even stare at these photos. ;)

  31. Hi! Chanced upon your blog and enjoying my stay here reading your postings and beautiful shots.
    Very classy presentation for home-cook dish. Looks healthy and nice!

  32. lim so ngo says:

    i grew up with this (dried) root vegetable as Grandma used in medicinal soup with chicken.
    I stir fried with homemade fish cake, carrot
    and some Shitake mushroom with this fresh
    Japanese imported Ngaimu as a side dish…or
    add together with other fruits to make juice,very refrshing! I also slice thinily
    add into my Miso soup..Good for menopause ladies as it is believed as a hormone replacement vegetable..in chinese medical journals.

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