Monday, 2 December 2013

Rooting for Suppertime

"Satoimo" Arrosto al Forno, con Galangal, Tahini e Sugo di Hoisin e Ostrice 
Roasted Satoimo with Galangal,Tahini, Hoisin & Oyster Sauce

Strange little gnarly veggies these "Satoimo's"- like a mutant combination of coconut and potato. Which is possibly why another name for them is "cocoyam". They grow voraciously in Asia and South America, as well as in Africa, where they are a main staple of the daily diet there. They are also known as Japanese potatoes- and yes, once peeled, they are very much like a regular potato at first glance... but also very different...

Satoimo's cook a little more quickly than regular potatoes and quickly become soft. They have a lot more starch and are therefore also very suitable to be mashed as they become lovely and creamy. They have a flavor which I would describe as a cross between regular potato and chestnut- and also tend to be as filling as chestnuts- which is precisely why they are eaten in poor countries. Which shouldn't stop us from enjoying them too!

You will find, as soon as you peel the satoimo... that it is a pretty slippery customer! Also, with all of those strands and fibers on the outside, they can tend to be a little fiddly. The way I peeled mine was to "top and tail" them and then to cut the peel generously away from top to bottom. As soon as I did so, I rinsed them immediately and cut them into quarters, lengthways. I have cooked satoimo's once before- which is how I found out how soft and sticky they can become... so this time I wanted to try something a little different.

The first step in the preparation of these super-delicious wedges, was to boil them in salted water, with about 2" worth of sliced galangal for 10-15 minutes. Galangal is similar to ginger, but has a slightly more citrus/lime flavor- and is totally yummy!After 7-8 minutes you will notice the change in color of the satoimo- it will lose its slightly transparent texture and become denser, less "see-through" and white. By this time there will probably be a lot of white foam bubbling up in the saucepan too- at least there was for me! I told you all about that starch!

Being wary of over-cooking them, I decided to stop at 10 minutes of cooking time, drained off most of the water and the transferred them from the saucepan to a frying pan. I pushed the satoimo to one side and added a tablespoon each of tahini, oyster sauce and hoisin sauce to the water, stirring it well so that it blended nicely together- and then stirred the satoimo wedges into it, gently flipping them over to get them all nicely coated. I added a hint of sesame oil and let things bubble away for 3-4 minutes, until all of the moisture and the flavors of those sauces had been absorbed into the now soft satoimo and then removed them from the heat and turned on the oven and broiler, ready to roast them up!

I popped them into the oven on the highest setting, with the broiler on at the lowest setting, on the middle shelf, for maybe 10 minutes, then carefully turned them over to brown from the other side too. The great thing about how soft the satoimos become when you boil or steam them, is that the outer surface quickly becomes soft and flaky. The first time I cooked them, I thought that, that would mean that about the only thing I could do with them would be to make a soup or mashed potato dish. But this evening, I suddenly realized how cool they would be roasted, until that fluffy, flaky outside texture became crisp and crunchy... and filled with the flavors of the galangal, oyster sauce and hoisin sauce and the yummy sesame flavor of the tahini... mmmmh! Delicious!

Once they were nearly as crispy and brown as I liked them, I gave them an extra light drizzle of oyster sauce and then popped them back under the broiler at the highest setting for a minute or so- just time to make it all bubble-up and slightly caramelize- yummy!

As this was just an experiment, I simply ate mine as they were- but they would make an excellent side dish for and spicy meat or poultry dish, or even to a spicy, sauced vegetable dish. I added a last drizzle of Hoisin and a sprinkle of sesame before serving, a little parsley as a relish and a bit of added freshness... and thoroughly enjoyed the crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside texture and the mild, Asian flavors- so yummy and different to any regular roast potatoes- and of course different ! And we all should try something different every now and again, no? 
I say yes!


  1. These sound delicious. I love potatoes and chestnuts, so I can only imagine I'd enjoy Satoimos. Will keep an eye out for them!

  2. I would imagine any ethnic supermarket in the states would have these Frank, and I hope you like them if you try them... Just be cautious not to over cook them as they boil up much more quickly than regular potatoes :-) glad you liked the post! Saluti da Francesco