Ahh… the Japanese Mountain Yam. A most strange and curious tuber, and the one type of yam that can be eaten raw (the orange things you get in super market are really sweet potatoes, not yams). It is a rather bland, lacking any distinct flavor. Its only saving grace, is that it turn a mucousy pile of snot when grated.
While it it may not be attractive, this slimy mess is an important addition to Okonomiyaki. The yam snot improves the texture of the large cabbage pancake, making it fluffy in the middle and crisp on the outside. It haven’t done any scientific, side-by-side tests, but the batch I made with the yam were the best ones to date.
Oh wait, you are still wondering what Okonomiyaki is? Well, it is a large pancake/ pizza made up of cabbage and a yam-flour-egg batter and topped with just about anything you can think off and fried up in a pan. In case you didn’t guess, it is Japanese. This past post goes over how to make it. If you have a mountain yam handy, add about 2 tbsp of the grated paste to the batter and decrease the water slightly.
So awesome, this amazingly snotty tuber makes my cabbage pizzas better… so how can I get one? Well unfortunately you are not going to be finding them in your standard, American grocery store. You will have better luck in an Asian grocer, where it could be called any of the following: nagaimo, yamaimo, Chinese yam, Japanese mountain yam, or Korean yam. Luckily for us we live right by the most awesome Hana Japanese Market, at 17th & U Street in NW DC. They have fresh yams there and they may even have dried powdered yams.