Don’t worry–despite the name, it won’t bite back.

At first glance, oni-manju (鬼まんじゅう) seems like an odd choice for the name of a simple dish featuring the star ingredient of sweet potato. After all, oni means “demon/ogre” and manju is a kind of Japanese confection. However, it’s actually a familiar and beloved sweet treat in the Tokai region of Japan, southwest of Tokyo, that was especially popular during post-war times because it requires few ingredients which are also relatively easy to procure. The “demon” in its name comes from the fact that the jagged cuts of sweet potato sticking out of dough are reminiscent of the horns and clubs wielded by oni in Japanese mythology.

Our Japanese-language reporter sweetsholic had eaten oni-manju before at a michi no eki in the Tokai region and remembered its distinctively soft texture and gentle sweetness. Even though sweet potatoes aren’t quite in season at the moment, she was recently overcome by a sudden craving for the snack and decided to make her own version at home. She used a recipe titled “Our local cuisine: Oni-manju from Aichi Prefecture” from the official website of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) as her guide. Let’s get cooking, shall we?


  • 1 small sweet potato, approximately 200 grams (7.1 ounces)
  • soft wheat flour (hakurikiko/薄力粉), 80 grams
  • non-glutinous rice flour: komeko/米粉 or joshinko/上新粉, 20 grams
  • sugar, 60 grams
  • water, 35 milliliters


Peel and cut the sweet potato into roughly one-centimeter long cubes, then soak in water and dry. For her version, sweetsholic actually used pre-cut frozen sweet potato. Coat the potato with sugar.

Add all other ingredients into a bowl and mix well before adding the sugared potatoes. Divide the mixture into four equal parts over slips of parchment paper and prepare to steam in a steaming device for approximately 15 minutes. That’s it!

▼ MAFF’s recipe also includes the following short video guide

So what was the verdict? The texture was pleasantly springy due to the presence of the soft wheat flour and the orange color also added a bright visual pop to its deliciousness.

Oni-manju can be stored in the fridge easily so you can absolutely make a big batch at once for future nibbling. Sweetsholic also recommends playing around with different variations on the recipe such as by decreasing the amount of sugar slightly and instead adding a little bit of salt. Happy steaming those demons, everyone!

Source: MAFF
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