Recently I was introduced to several very interesting food blogs on Izakayas through “Izakaya Sanpo“, which I listed in my favorite links. One called “Eating out in Tokyo with Jon” is quite amazing as he is very prolific (eating out and blogging) and his writing very informative and interesting. I was reading one of his posts on a quaint drinking place in Takasaki, Gunmma 群馬県高崎市 called “machiya” 待家. This reminded me of the last time we were in Maebashi 前橋-Takasaki 高崎 areas in Gunmma prefecture, my friend and his wife took us to a very fancy and excellent French restaurant which we enjoyed enormously (including a bottle of Chateau Lynch-Bages — 2001, I think), but if I had known of this place we would have begged my friend to take us there instead. In any case, he was describing a mountain yam or “yamaimo” dish called “Yamaimo somen”. Since I am trying to reproduce Izakaya food at home and blog about it, I wanted to reproduce this dish based on the picture and his description.
I peeled “Nagaimo” (it is the cultivated variety of “yamaimo”) and then using a Japanese mandolin (the “Benriner“, which we have been using for almost 25 years but still has very sharp blades), I made thick (using the most coarse julienne blade) juliennes, which are rather fine, actually. I think that, depending on what kind of texture/sliminess you like, one can change the treatment of the “Yamaimo somen”. We rather like some slimy texture as well as crunch, so we would use these juliennes as is. If you would rather reduce the sliminess, then, I would soak them in vinegared water, drain and wash them in running water to remove the surface slim before putting them in a bowl. Judging from the picture and the delighted expression by Jon, they must have washed the slim out somehow. For us, I just placed the “yamaimo somen” into a bowl and poured in a cold noodle sauce (I used a bottled concentrate with strength weaker than for dipping but stronger than for hot noodle dishes). I garnished with chopped scallion and nori with a side of “real” wasabi. This was quite a new (at least to us) way of enjoying this slimy potato. I have posted several other ways to enjoy this slimy potato (mostly grated, Sorry, Jon). Certainly, we can serve this to our Western guests with much less problem. Another idea I have is to mix this with juliennes of daikon which may add another type of crunch to this dish.