Celebrating Fall with Imoni
Imoni - Meat and Potatoes Stew
I was first introduced to Imoni around 10 years ago by a friend who was born and raised in Yamagata prefecture. Yamagata is located in the Tohoku region of Japan and known for its fruits, particularly cherries and pears. They are also well known for Yonezawa Beef which is considered one of the top three beef, standing alongside Matsusaka and Kobe beef.
Imoni is prepared similarly but with slight variations depending on the prefecture although they always contain some kind of potato and meat. In Yamagata, beef is combined with satoimo, which is taro root. Konnyaku (dense jelly made from the konjac plant) and mushrooms such as maitake, hiratake and shiitake are added. Regular potatoes can be substituted for the satoimo as it may be difficult to find outside Japan. Also you may wish to use pork in place of beef as that's how the people in the Shonan region like to eat theirs.
*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.
The Famous Imoni Kai in Yamagata
Imoni is a huge deal in Yamagata and is usually eaten mostly during the autumn season. Imoni is eaten like a soup or stew and you'll see groups of people preparing and eating it outdoors near the rivers. Imoni-kai (imoni get-together) is an important autumn tradition in Yamagata and tourists as well as local residents gather around a giant kettle of imoni which is prepared using a huge crane on the banks of Mamigasaki River on the first Sunday in September.
*Photo courtesy of Japan wikipedia
Most people in America think shirataki noodles when it comes to konjac. In Japan we more often use the one that comes in a block. This is the konjac that's used in this recipe.
Let's Get Started
Imoni is a hearty dish of meat and potatoes with many variations throughout the Tohoku region. This recipe is prepared in the Yamagata style with beef and satoimo yams.
However please feel free to substitute regular potatoes if you can't find satoimo in your city.
If you can't find or don't like konjac or shirataki, delete them completely from the recipe. You can also use pork instead of beef but if you do, add 2 tablespoons of miso to balance out the flavors.
Prep Time: 30
Total Time: 60
- 1/2 pound beef thinly sliced (use beef with some fat for best flavor)
- 8 small satoimo yams or baby potatoes
- 1 block konjac torn into pieces or 1 package shirataki noodles
- A bunch of maitake shiitake or any mushrooms you'd like to use.
- 1 stalk negi (Japanese green onions) or scallions
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons mirin
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1 tablespoon instant dashi powder(Japanese bonito stock)-optional
- 2 pinches salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 5 cups water
This is the bottle of dashi I have in my kitchen all year around. I couldn't live wthout this. It can be used as a seasoning to add umami to almost any dish. A must-have item if you're making Japanese food.
- 1. Peel the satoimo yams or young potatoes and rinse clean.
- 2. Cook the beef strips with some cooking oil in a large pot for 2 minutes. Add satoimo or potatoes and mushrooms. Add the konjac if you are using them. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- 3. Add water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
- 4. Add soy sauce, mirin, sake, salt and sugar. If using dashi powder, add some here.
- 5. Add in the negi or scallions and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve and eat while it's piping hot.