An Educated Palate

Math has never been my favorite subject. If there was one black mark on my quarterly report card, it would be filed under algebra, or calculus. Quite frankly, it’s a small miracle that anyone let me graduate with such a flimsy understanding of numbers in general. One limited concept that I can comfortably wrap my mind, and my lips around, is pi.

Okay, you got me. Not actual pi, but pie. Flaky pastry and comforting fillings both sweet and savory always make perfect logical sense. Pi Day, March 14th (3.14) is the only day of the year I’m happy to bridge the gap between baking and calculating.

This year, I’d like to present to you an appropriately educated provision. Inspired by daigaku imo, imagine a chunky sweet potato pie with a touch of Asian flare. Directly translated, daigaku imo means “university potatoes.” Though still murky in origin, the name can be traced back to two plausible explanations.

Tokyo University, sometime in the early 1900’s, saw the rise of this cultural sensation. Some say a snack shop began offering lightly fried sweet potatoes drenched in sugar syrup and tossed with sesame seeds, while others are adamant that it was a student selling these sweet and savory delights to raise funds for tuition. Either way, we have Japan to thank for yet another viral food hit.

Rather than pulling out a vat of bubbling oil, my adaptation uses only a touch of toasted sesame oil to roast the tubers to fork-tender perfection. Creamy yet still toothsome, the pale white flesh takes on greater dimension with the umami notes of soy sauce rather than plain salt, plus the acidic edge of vinegar for balance. These subtle, delicate nuances will keep tasters guessing, but this is a culinary equation that’s easy to solve.

Yield: Makes 8 - 12 Servings

Daigaku Imo Pie

Daigaku Imo Pie

Creamy Japanese sweet potatoes take on greater dimension with umami notes of soy sauce, sesame, and rice vinegar in this easy eggless pie.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 2 Pounds Satsuma Imo (Japanese Sweet Potatoes*), Peeled and Sliced into 1/4-Inch Rounds
  • 2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Aquafaba
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Tapioca Starch
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seeds


    1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
    2. Toss the peeled and sliced sweet potatoes with the sesame oil in a large bowl. Once thoroughly coated, spread them out in an even layer on your prepared baking sheets. Make sure the pieces aren't overlapping so that they all cook and brown evenly.
    3. Roast for 30 - 40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes, or until you can comfortably handle them.
    4. Place half of the roasted potatoes in your food processor or blender, along with the aquafaba, both sugars, tapioca starch, soy sauce, and vinegar. Puree, pausing to scrape down the sides of the container as needed, until completely smooth.
    5. Pour the puree into your prepared pie crust and smooth out the top. Arrange the remaining roasted potatoes on top, fanning them out decoratively for complete coverage. Drizzle with maple syrup all over.
    6. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is softly set. It should still jiggle in the middle when tapped because much like a cheesecake, it will continue to firm up as it cools.
    7. While still warm, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
    8. Let cool at room temperature before moving into the fridge, and chill for at least 3 hours before slicing.


*These potatoes have white flesh and a mild sweetness. Orange-fleshed yams or sweet potatoes can be used instead, but the pie will have a slightly different texture and flavor.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 117Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gProtein: 1g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.

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