Okinawa Tourism Information:Series/IslandBlessing,IslandTastePart31Yam

Series / Island Blessing, Island Taste Part 31 Yam

post : 2017.10.27 18:00

Yam is available from the end of the year through early in the new year at markets in Okinawa. Yam belongs to the same family (Dioscoreaceae) as Chinese yam and yamaimo (Japanese yam), but do you know how big that is? Actually the one on this photo is not a big one, there are bigger ones more. Many kinds of yam with unique shapes are available on the market, such as a thin and long one, the one looks like a rake, and many more. Compare to yamaimo and Chinese yam, yam is stickier.

There are 2 kinds of yams. The one with white and the other is purple. White yam is used as an ingredient for miso soup, stir-fried dish, and deep-fried dish. The colorful color and stickiness of purple yam is suitable to make sweets. It is hard to figure out which one is which from its appearance, so each yam is usually labeled as “white” or “purple” and displayed at markets. 

In Uruma City where we live, we find many signs or banners that say “Yam Suubu” here and there during the winter. We thought someone miswrites “Soup” at first, but every one of them was written as “Suubu.” If it is a correct word, then what is that mean? One day, our acquaintance told us, “Suubu means game or competition in Okinawa. Each farmer compete the weights of yams that they grow.”  We felt relieved after we found out the meaning of it.   

Yam Suubu is a main event of “Uruma City Industrial Festival” which takes place on every December, and many people attend this festival for “AmaSUN” and “Yam Suubu.” When we walked around and looked for yams, we found the one which was almost the same size as the lower body of an adult! By the way, we learned that the big ones are dig with power shovels. We would like to see how it goes someday!

There was a crowd in front of yams, and it is uniquely “Yam Suubu.”

We got a recipe from a yam farmer at the festival, so we would like to make a yam dish this time. We had recognition that “Yam Suubu” is a seasonal tradition. However, we thought yam is too big to cook and had no idea how to cook it, so we asked a farmer for tips. He told me the best way is to stir-fry it with “Suchika (salted pork).” But we could not get the whole recipe from him, so we will add our original way to cook it! 

Okinawa’s traditional preserved food “Suchika.”: It is available at supermarkets or markets.

“Stir-fried yam & Suchika with miso” 

Plate by Yoshiriki Yamada (not for sale) / Ryukyu indigo place mat by Chika Miyara (5,000 yen excl. tax)


【Ingredients】(serves 4)

*500g / 1.1lb Yam
*300g / 0.7lb Suchika (slice it thinly)
*1 Japanese leek (slice it diagonally)
*1 Chinese chive (cut it into pieces about 4cm / 1.6in long)
*1 clove of Garlic (mince)
*1 clove of Ginger (mince) 


Seasoning (mix all of them)  

*1 tablespoon Sake
*1 tablespoon Miso
*2 teaspoons XO sauce
*1 teaspoon Sugar
*2 tablespoons Chinese soup stock 

*A small dollop Sesame oil 



1. Rinse yam with water well, cut it into proper size, and soaks it in vinegar water for about 3 hours.

2. Take yam out of vinegar water, rinse it with water, put it in a steamer and steam for about 20 minutes.

3. When yam gets soft enough to stick a wooden spit, peel its skin when it is hot.

4. Cut yam into bite-size pieces (about 1cm / 0.4in thick).

5. Put sesame oil into a pan and stir-fry minced garlic and ginger at low heat.

6. Cook until it is aromatic, and then add Suchika and yam and stir-fry at medium heat. 

7. When Suchika and yam get heated, add Japanese leek and Chinese chive, shake the pan, and mix all of them.

8. After every ingredient get heated, add the mixed seasoning and finish. 

9. After seasoning spreads over the whole ingredient, turn off the heat and put it in a serving dish. 

Plate by Yoshiriki Yamada (not for sale) / Ryukyu indigo place mat by Chika Miyara (5,000 yen excl. tax) 

We added Japanese leek and Chinese chive and cooked it as our original dish. The combination of yam’s non-soggy texture, miso, and saltiness of Suchika goes great with beer. 

I was worried to use yam because it was too big. However, the one soaked with vinegar water can be used to cook “tororo (grated yam),” or sprinkle potato starch or flour and fry it as fritter or tempura. Yam is actually more useful ingredient than we thought, so we finished the whole yam very quickly. 

We used Suchika which was available at a market this time, but we would like to challenge making Suchika someday. We will report it on this website when we succeeded it.


【Inquiry about products on this article】

Gallery Haraiso
Address: 1-9-24 Ishikawa Akebono, Uruma City
Business hours: 11:00-16:00
Closed: Wed & Sun
Tel: 098-989-3262 



Okinawa CLIP photo writer monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kono)