Sep 15
2008

Fall Flavors: Sweet Potato Fries

in Fruits & Vegetables, Oyatsu/Snack, Recipes by Type, Side Dish

As the weather starts to cool down and the mornings have that crispness in the air that lets you know fall is finally on its way, my thoughts turn to fall flavors–apples, pumpkin, pie, hot chocolate, candy corn, yams, sweet potatoes . . . . I love sweet potatoes, but this is a newer development. As a very young girl (maybe 4 years old) I had an encounter with yams that ended in me gagging them back up and I swore off yams and sweet potatoes (because to me at that time they were one and the same). Every year at Thanksgiving I would give the gooey marshmallow yam casserole a try, and every year was the same–“Blech! How do people eat this stuff?”

Fast forward a few years. I had been married 4 months and Mr. Fuji and I had just moved to Japan for the first time. It was fall and we were visiting some touristy site when I heard a strange song (almost a mournful chanting, reminiscent of Gregorian chants) accompanied by an intoxicating aroma. I asked Mr. Fuji what it was and he told me it was the “Yakiimo man”. “The yaki-what?” I asked. He explained that the Yakiimo man was a vendor that usually set up shop in an old rickety truck and sold roasted sweet potatoes out of the back of the truck, hot from the coals. I was intrigued and the smell of those roasting sweet potatoes was so delicious that I decided I wanted to give sweet potatoes a try.

I’ve always prided myself on being able to eat and like anything, but yams/sweet potatoes had always been the only thing that truly held me back in that assertion. I was determined to change this. We found the Yakiimo man and bought one big sweet potato. He handled it with gloves and wrapped it in newspaper warning us that it was hot. I peeled back the newspaper to take a better look. The outside of the potato was purple in color, much different than the orangey brown color of the yams I so disliked at home. I carefully took a bite and was instantly in love. The taste was fabulous–slightly sweet, but not overwhelming. I was also startled to find that the flesh of the sweet potato was yellow, which was strangely beautiful in contrast to the purple skin. We quickly ate up that potato just as it was–plain, with nothing on it.

After that first encounter I began trying every form of the Japanese sweet potato that I could get my hands on, daigaku imo (deep-fried sweet potatoes coated in a caramelized syrup), satsumaimo tempura (sweet potato tempura), and even sweet potato flavored soft cream (soft serve). At a Thanksgiving gathering we attended that November put on by some fellow expats I tentatively took a spoonful of those traditional marshmallow yam casserole that someone had brought and took a small bite. Although nowhere near as yummy as my beloved satsumaimo, it was good! That was a turning point in my life and I have never looked back. Now I can truly say that there is nothing that I won’t eat.

Sweet potatoes will always hold a special place in my heart (and my stomach!). There is the added bonus that the sweet potato is incredibly good for you. In one cup of sweet potato, you are getting a mere 180 calories accompanied by 0 grams of fat, 7 grams of Dietary Fiber, 769% of your daily Vitamin A needs, and 65% of your Calcium! Not to mention the fact that it is low in Sodium, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, Potassium, and Manganese. Talk about a powerhouse food!

One of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes is by making oven-baked sweet potato fries. I like to slice them up into thin sticks so that they get nice and crispy on the outside when I bake them. They are a great accompaniment to many a fall meal and can be served with your favorite condiment. I whipped up a quick curry dip to go with mine.

Sweet Potato Fries
4 servings

1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices (or thinner for crispier fries!)
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In small bowl, combine seasoned salt, paprika, garlic powder, parsley, and chili powder; set aside.

2. In large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil; sprinkle with seasoning mixture and toss to coat. On cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, spread out potatoes in single layer.

3. Roast, turning once, 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden (you may need to cook them a little longer depending on how thick your fries are). Watch them carefully while they cook because they can easily burn (but even the slightly burned ones still taste good!).

* For crispier fries, soak the potatoes in salt water for several minutes after slicing. When cooking, move them to the highest rack in the oven once they are soft, then increase the temperature to 475 degrees F for the last 5 minutes.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }



Phoe September 15, 2008 at 9:51 am

I have recently made up my mind to try sweet potatoes in something other than sickeningly sweet Thanksgiving foods. I’ll have to give this recipe a try.

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Meg September 15, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Ooh, more food to try. This will be perfect to try because fries have been banned in my house. I miss them!

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nanacindynz September 15, 2008 at 4:21 pm

hmmm that looks like Kumara (from New Zealand) to me. it’s a bit different to sweet potato, less pumpkin-y

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Lolly September 15, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Jeepers…. this looks tasty! What is the recipe for quick curry dip??? Do you have that on your site someplace hidden.. oh also.. have you ever tried penzy’s spices?
http://www.penzeys.com
They are the nicest people – and their catalog is simply amazing. Take a peek if you have not checked them out (but I bet you have!).

Hope your day is going better!

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K and S September 16, 2008 at 12:51 am

yummy I will have to try this!

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Michelle September 16, 2008 at 4:26 am

Oh yum! I eat sweet potato all the time, but I’m going to have to try this recipe for sure!

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Misha September 16, 2008 at 5:42 pm

I’ve tried a few recipes for sweet potato fries, but these look really really good! I love that you can satisfy that fry craving while still being healthy! Yum yum!

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spanuva September 17, 2008 at 5:35 am

Oh……yummy sweet potato recipe.i like sweet potato

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upstateLisa September 17, 2008 at 6:10 am

My girls and I looove sweet potatoes! will give these a try. Hubby does not like them and I think it is because he had to have that gooey marshmellow stuff that his mother made! I like mine a little less dressed! thanks for the recipe.

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Jackie September 17, 2008 at 11:49 am

Maybe it is my oven but I never seem to get a good crisp on my homemade sp fries and I have found broiling them for a little bit works great. What did you do for the curry dip? It sounds yummy!

I hope you’ve had a chance to eat sweet potato chips… not as healthy as your fries but way better than regular chips!

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NipponExports.com September 17, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Everyday I make sweet potatoes for myself. I must eat like 2 pounds a day; everyday!
I am a bodybuilder so sweet potatoes are a staple of my diet. When I first came to Japan the food struck me as odd, but after some time I began to appreciate it; now I love it!
To save time I just poke some wholes and microwave it for 6 minutes. Mmm…delicious!

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Abigail September 18, 2008 at 10:27 pm

Oh, wow, I just made sweet potato home fries last night! I use cumin, olive oil, coarse salt, and pepper. Yum. I’m waiting for that yaki imo truck to come ’round here in Nishinomiya – but we’ve got a few months yet to wait that one out. It’s still hot as blazes, though a typhoon’s coming through this afternoon and has brought a bit of cooler breezes. I bet you really miss Japan! I would!

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Abigail September 19, 2008 at 1:37 am

BTW, I got my sweet potato fries recipe from Everyday Food.

Will definitely try yours, too! Oishisoh!

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Goldie September 21, 2008 at 10:50 pm

Made these along with the Tom Kha Gai tonight. Again, my husband and my guests couldn’t get enough of the fries and the curry sauce. I had to make a second batch. Mind you, my guest is a chef, and it was a wonderful compliment when he kept eating and “mmmm-ing”. Thanks for another great recipe. Can’t wait to try more of your yummy treats.

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Kelly Spitzer September 22, 2008 at 11:58 am

These look so good. I dig the sweet and spicy combination.

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gleek September 23, 2008 at 7:48 pm

i’m totally making these soon! i’ve had the post saved in bloglines for almost two weeks now! :)

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Me October 7, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Boy do these look delicious! I must try them soon. Perfect time of year for the recipe.

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