After the Meiji era, full-scale farmland reclamation was launched in various parts of Hokkaido, where it was started to cultivate many different kinds of crops such as oats, barley, wheat, hull-less barley, buckwheat, soybeans, millet, corn, gosho-imo (potatoes) and pumpkins. Among these crops, potatoes have become widely diffused as the best crop of Hokkaido because they are resistant to frost damage and are relatively easy to cultivate.
In addition, since gosho-imo have a good keeping quality, they have often been consumed throughout the year as a substitute for rice, side dishes and snacks. They are consumed in creative ways: besides being boiled, they are grated into dumplings and baked or mashed into imo-mochi (potato cakes), etc.
The name, gosho-imo is derived from the popular belief that five sho (a unit of volume) of potatoes can be harvested from a single seed potato. Potatoes were really reliable enough to support peoples’ lives even when other crops produced a poor or bad harvest.
Gosho-imo which are still made at home can be prepared as follows: Mash boiled potatoes, add some starch to the mashed potatoes, knead them into sticks and slice into rounds. Boil them in hot water or grill on a net or in a frying pan, and eat with soy sauce while still hot. It is also recommended to eat imo-mochi with sugar and soy sauce, or soybean flour. (Photo courtesy of Intelligent Link Inc.)