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 (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.
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!!
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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)