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Naruto Kintoki Sweet Potatoes
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Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes are small to medium in size and are long, oblong, and slender in shape, averaging 2-5 centimeters in diameter. The skin is rough and brown with faint red patches, and there are many shallow eyes found on all sides of the tuber. The flesh is dry, dense, and smooth with a white to gold hue. When cooked, Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes are fluffy and very sweet with flavors similar to chestnuts.
Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes are available in the fall through winter.
Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes, botanically classified as Ipomoea batatas, are one of the most famous sweet potatoes in Japan. Their name is derived from Naruto, the land in which they are grown, and kintoki which contains a character meaning gold in Japanese describing the unique color of the flesh. Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes are used for both food and confectionary items including the famous Naruto Uzu-imo, which is a steamed Naruto Kintoki sweet potato that is soaked in honey and then dried. This sweet was certified by the Tokushima specialty brand in 2013, and because the sweet potatoes are grown in such a limited region, it continues to be a popular item only found in select stores across Japan.
Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes are best suited for cooked applications such as steaming, frying, grilling, and baking. They can be deep fried and marinated in honey as a sweet and creamy side dish or battered and fried into tempura. Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes can also be quartered, steamed, and used in salads or gratin. In addition to main and side dish preparations, Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes are used in desserts such as puddings, cakes, and jelly squares. They are also distilled and used to make sake and shochu. Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes pair well with wasabi aioli, sriracha, sesame, miso, aromatics such as ginger, scallions, and garlic, meats such as poultry and eggs, arugula, rainbow chard, lentils, coffee, and green tea. They will keep up to a week when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
In Naruto City, Japan, the Naruto Kintoki sweet potato has become a tourist attraction that draws visitors to the city. Every fall, the Renaissance Naruto Resort holds Naruto Kintoki potato farm experiences where guests can pick their own sweet potatoes. The resort is a three min walk from the potato field and guests are given a tour of the farm to see what goes into harvesting and producing these rare sweet potatoes. They are then allowed to venture into the field to dig up the sweet potatoes and keep them as a souvenir.
Sweet potatoes have been grown in the Tokushima Prefecture, Japan since the Edo Period, 1603 to 1868. In 1952, sweet potatoes increased in popularity, and new breeds were developed like the kokei 14 and then the Naruto Kintoki in 1979. Today, Naruto Kintoki sweet potatoes are only found in the small region surrounding Naruto city in the Tokushima Prefecture, Japan and are sold in select markets.