This Japanese sweet potato mashed with chestnuts (kuri kinton) is a staple of the New Year’s (osechi ryori) feast in Japan. It features soft pureed sweet potato and chunks of chestnuts to create a balanced sweet but savoury side dish. Kuri Kinton adds a delicious and sweet element to the new year’s feast and can be enjoyed with other meals too.
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What is Japanese Sweet Potato Mash?
Japanese sweet potato mash is known as “Kurikinton” in Japan and is a staple New Year’s dishes (Osechi Ryori). Kuri means chestnuts, and Kinton is written as “Golden Futon” in Kanji character. Typically Japanese sweet potato is cooked with cape Jasmine fruit (Kuchinashi-no-mi) for bright golden colour, then mashed with chestnuts. It is believed that eating Japanese sweet potato mash, which has an appearance which resembles gold nuggets or gold coins, as part of New Year’s dishes will improve your luck and fortune and make your business prosperous.
Why You Will Love This Mashed Sweet Potato?
You will love this mashed Japanese sweet potato because it is simply delicious. Japanese people mainly eat this for New Year’s feast but it is super easy to make and can be served as an appetiser, snack, or side dish any time of the year. This is my favourite Osechi Ryori along with Datemaki Japanese rolled omelette.
What Do I Need To Make This Recipe?
Japanese sweet potatoes – Many varieties of sweet potato are cultivated in Japan. “Naruto Kintoki” is commonly distributed throughout the country. Beni Haruka and Annōimo are popular varieties in Japan also. They have purple skin with bright yellow flesh.
Candied Chestnuts in Syrup – I used a jar of store bought candied chestnuts which are called “Kuri no kanroni” in Japanese. They are peeled and cooked chestnuts preserved in sweet syrup. You can make this from scratch too.
Gardenia Fruit – This ingredient is also called “Kuchinashi no mi”. Adding this dried cape jasmine fruit when you cook cut and peeled sweet potato makes the bright pale coloured sweet potato flesh turn a bright golden yellow colour.
Mirin – See Japanese substitution post if you can not access this ingredient to see what can be substituted.
How To Pick Good Japanese Sweet Potato?
Harvesting Japanese purple sweet potatoes begins around August. Freshly harvested sweet potatoes are not necessarily sweet and delicious. It is said that purple sweet potatoes become sweeter after it has been stored for 2 to 3 month when the starch has been saccharified. Therefore, purple sweet potatoes in season from October to January. Pick sweet potatoes are plump and thick and feels heavy when you hold it. Thin sweet potatoes are said to have more fibers. So when it is mashed, the texture will not be smooth. Also Sweet potatoes should have taut uniform and bright purple skin. Avoid ones has wrinkles and blemishes on the skin. reference: Satsumaimo
How to Make Sweet Potato Mashed?
- Wash and cut sweet potatoes into 2cm pieces.
- Leave the cut sweet potatoes in the water of a large bowl to remove the astringent taste.
- Peel the skin thickly.
- Cook the sweet potato and drain the chestnuts jar to separate the chestnuts and syrup.
- Strain the cooked sweet potato.
- Place the strained sweet potato back into the cooking pot.
- Add all other ingredients and turn the heat on.
- Stir continuously till all the seasonings dissolved and reduced a little over low to medium heat.
- Add chestnuts to coat with mashed sweet potato.
Tips & Tricks
- Peel the skin thickly. Japanese sweet potato (purple skin with pale yellow flesh) has a lot of fibre near the skin. So in order to make silky smooth mashed sweet potato, remove skin thickly.
- Cook with a bag of crushed cape jasmine for a striking golden yellow colour. If you can’t access cape jasmine, substitute with 1 tsp of turmeric or saffron.
- Strain or mash while the sweet potatoes are hot.
What To Serve With?
Mashed Japanese sweet potatoes are made with sugar so it will last for a while with New Year’s day in mind. So it is good to be served with savoury dishes. Also this is quite sweet so is good to be served as a snack or dessert with tea.
More Osechi Ryori Recipes
- Pickled Daikon and Carrot Kōhaku Namasu
- Datemaki Rolled Omelette
- Sweetened black soybeans Kuromame
- Sekihan Azuki bean rice
- Osechi Ryori
A: Keep it in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will keep about 3-5 days. If you have lots of leftovers, you can turn this into a Japanese sweet potato pie.
A: There is not anything you can substitute for candied chestnuts. So either make it from scratch or omit this ingredient and increase the mirin amount to 1/3 cup.
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Japanese sweet potato mashed with candied chestnuts
- 2 Japanese purple sweet potato *1
- 1 jar sweetened chestnuts *2
- 1 Gardenia fruit *3
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1/3 cup of the syrup from the jar of sweetened chestnuts
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Wash sweet potatoes and cut into about 0.8 inch (2cm) thickness.
- Peel the purple skin thickly and soak them in a large bowl of water to remove astringent taste for about 15-20 minutes.
- Separate the chestnuts and syrup and set aside.
- Drain the soaking water and place them into a pot with enough water to cover the sweet potatoes.
- Crash the gardenia fruit and put it in a tea bag, (which you can get Japanese one coin shop such as Daiso).
- Place the bag of crashed gardenia fruit or 1 tsp turmeric into the pot.
- Bring the water to boil over high heat, then turn it down to medium to simmer for about 20 minutes. Insert a skewer to test the potato is cooked.
- When the sweet potato is cooked, remove the bag of gardenia fruit, drain the water and while the sweet potato is hot, strain the potato using a sieve with a wooden spatula.
- Place the strained sweet potato back into the cooking pot, with sugar, chestnuts syrup, mirin, and salt, cook over medium heat.
- Stir the mashed sweet potato continually avoiding the bottom of the pot to burn.
- When you can see the bottom of the pot, and the mashed sweet potatoes thickened slightly, turn the heat off.
- Add the chestnuts to the pot and coat them with mashed sweet potatoes.
- Leave the Kuri Kinton to cool down, then serve!
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