Satsuma imo: Belgian patissiers celebrate the Japanese sweet potato


This isn’t the orange tuber we know in Belgium, the Japanese sweet potato is sweeter and less fibrous. The good news is that you don’t have to take a 12-hour flight to Tokyo to discover it, because nine of Belgium’s top pastry chefs have become champions of this Japanese delicacy.

Satsumaimo is a Japanese particularity: to make it sweeter, the sweet potato is matured in an environment with stable humidity and temperature.  Its texture is unctuous and much lighter than the variety of sweet potato we know in Belgium. With its unique natural sweetness and subtle chestnut taste, the Japanese sweet potato lends itself particularly well to sweet preparations.

Relatively unknown in Europe it is the star ingredient in Japanese pastry and can be eaten on its own, with caramel, in a cake, in bread, in the form of mousse, yogurt, ice cream, the possibilities are endless! Rich in fiber, vitamin A, C and with a low glycemic index, the healthy food replaces both butter and sugar in recipes. It’s healthy without requiring any compromise on taste. 

“Desserts with vegetables (beets, zucchini, pumpkin, etc.), or sweet potatoes are increasingly popular. These alternatives make it possible to reduce butter and sugar and therefore lighten a pastry by adding softness, fibre, interesting vitamins and minerals to the preparation,” explains Ségolène Chaput, pharmacist-nutritionist.

Where to taste the Japanese sweet potato in Belgium?

The Japanese Foreign Trade Organization (JETRO) launched a culinary challenge to the top patisseries in Brussels. Their missions: to create a recipe based on Japanese sweet potato and distribute their exclusive creations within their stores in order to make this ingredient known to Belgians.

The campaign runs from 14 to 24 March and the results will be available in 11 establishments scattered across the capital.

Consider yourself a gourmet?

Why not use the QR code and let your opinion be known. There are also some rather tasty prizes!

“The campaign around the Japanese sweet potato is an opportunity to honour the expertise of Belgian pastry chefs, renowned throughout the world,” enthuses Takuya Yamazaki, General Manager of JETRO Brussels. “The testers will be amazed by the difference in taste between Japanese and European tubers. We are curious to know the opinions on the satsumaimo from elsewhere which could become part of daily life in future.”

By giving their feedback on pastries, customers participate in a competition launched by the Japan External Trade Organization. Loads of attractive prizes are up for grabs:

1st prize: a Japanese Atsukan spa with a massage for 2 people at the Jam Hotel

2nd prize: a meal for 2 people at the Kamo restaurant ‘1 Michelin star

3rd prize: entries for the immersive exhibition ‘Tokyo Art City’

To learn more:


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