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Japanese Local Cuisine

Satoimo Gohan

Chef, Minokamo takes us on a culinary adventure around Japan. She researches, writes about, and arranges regional dishes that capture the sensory enjoyments, local climate, history, and unique lifestyles of each region. This episode explores Kyoto's; Satoimo Gohan.


Ingredients (makes 4 rice bowls)

2 small satoimo / taro root (each 90 g)
1 abura-age / deep-fried tofu pouch
15 g chirimen-jako / dried sardine fry
2 tbsp usukuchi shoyu / light soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sake
2 cups rice
390 cc water
1/4 tsp salt (approx.)

How to Make

1. Place the abura-age between sheets of paper towel, press with the hand to remove excess oil, and finely chop. Mix the chirimen-jako with sake. Peel the satoimo and cut into 2 cm x 3 cm cubes.

2. Wash the rice, add water and all seasonings, top with ingredients, and cook in a rice cooker. (The gohan pictured is cooked in a pot.)

3. When cooked, mix and serve.

Satoimo Gohan was the treat a local mom cooked for me during my visit to the Tamba region of Kyoto. Satoimo, aka taro root, looks like jagaimo (regular potato) but has a distinct slimy texture. This recipe presents it in large chunks that are fluffy and delicious.

Another highlight of this recipe is chirimen-jako. The boiled and dried sardine fry is a popular, versatile ingredient in Kyoto, where residents simmer it with eggplant, dip it in vinegar and mix with rice, and braise it with bell pepper and chili pepper. Kyoto’s supermarket shelves are lined with multiple varieties of chirimen-jako.The Tamba region is also known for saba-zushi, a pressed sushi topped with mackerel lightly pickled in salt. Originally, salted mackerel and dried sardine fry were probably a way of preserving the marine products for transporting to the inland mountains of Tamba.

I opted to keep this recipe simple, using only satoimo and abura-age (deep-fried tofu pouch), but some prefer to jazz it up with shiitake mushroom, carrot, and konjac.

Freshly cooked satoimo gohan releases the appetizing aroma of chirimen-jako along with the steam. I always love the process of waiting for this rice to finish cooking and smelling the aroma as it reaches completion.

minokamo | Cookery expert / Photographer
Gifu Prefecture native minokamo’s culinary adventures were inspired by her fond childhood memories of cooking with her grandmother. She researches, writes about, and arranges regional dishes that capture, through their preparation and presentation, sensory enjoyments inspired by local climate, history, and lifestyles. Ryori tabi kara tadaima(Back from a Cooking Journey; Fudosha), published in September 2020, is a collection of recipes from minokamo’s visits to homes up and down Japan.