Japanese Yam: Yamaimo vs Nagaimo vs Jinenjo
When I think of Japanese yams, what comes to my mind right away is “Yamaimo (山芋: literally meaning Mountain Yam)”, “Nagaimo (長芋: Long Yam)”, and “Jinenjo (自然薯: Wild Yam)”.
These are similar things, all seem to be referred to as “Japanese yam” in English, and even Japanese people can be confused.
The Difference: Yamaimo vs Nagaimo vs Jinenjo yams
Since I researched about the 3 varieties of Japanese yams today, here I will share what I have learned, giving you an overview of how Yamaimo, Nagaimo, and Jinenjo yams differ from one another.
Actually, Yamaimo is not the name of a species of yam but the Japanese generic term for the edible yams that are classified into “Yamanoimo-Ka (ヤマノイモ科: the family Dioscoreaceae)”, which include Nagaimo, Jinenjo, and “Yamatoimo (大和芋)”.
At supermarkets in Japan, Yamatoimo, such as “Ichoimo (イチョウ芋)” and “Tsukuneimo (つくね芋)”, tends to be sold under the name of Yamaimo.
Nagaimo, literally Long Yam, also known as Chinese yam, is a yam that originated from China. When grated, or in “Tororo (とろろ)” form, Yamaimo (Yamatoimo) is thick and viscous with sweetness, while Nagaimo, containing lots of liquid, is smooth in consistency and light in taste.
Jinenjo, literally Wild Yam, is a yam native to Japan. The viscosity of raw grated Jinenjo is strong, and in Japan, Jinenjo has been valued since ancient times for its analeptic effects.