Homemade is Better—Sweet Potato Fries

We were making burgers the other day, and my wife bought sweet potatoes in hopes that we could use them for something.  As it happens, I recalled that one needs to use corn starch to make them crispy.  So, we thought we’d experiment and see what happens.  This recipe is sort of based on Japanese Tempura.  I’ve seen corn starch, flour, eggs, and seltzer or carbonated drink in a few recipes that I’ve come across.  Since I wasn’t after the dredged look of the Tempura, I thought I would remove the egg and flour and concentrate on using corn starch and the carbonated water.

We also have a deep frier, one of our seldomly used kitchen gadgets, but it is a multitasker! I keep my oil in a container with a lid on it and watch it for signs that it’s done its job.  Then when I’m done with it, I dispose of it at the local eco station, OR I ask a local restaurant if I may dump it in their grease bin.  I recommend the eco station; it is less intrusive.  Never fear if you don’t own a deep fryer; you can still make excellent tasting yam fries using a good old pot and some oil.

Keep a separate glass container that is cleaned and dry to put the spent oil in; just because the oil is dark doesn’t mean it’s no good.  There are a couple of signs that tell you the oil is spent.  The first sign is smoking.  If the oil starts to give off smoke, don’t use it after that fry.  Another sign is an off smell.  If the oil smells bad, you can be done with it.  I would also suggest that after three months of home frying, it’s probably ok to get rid of it.  If you aren’t using it that much, then wait until it is very dark.  I’ve had mine a little too long at this point and need to start fresh again.  If you treat your oil right, it will repay in deliciously fried food!

I’m willing to bet, as well, that when you read sweet potato, you thought yam.  You’d be wrong! While yam and sweet potato are often interchanged, they are, in fact, different root vegetables.  The sweet potato is related more to the common potato (if there is such a thing), while the yam is its own species of root tuber.  In North America, we interchange them because the sweet potato can have the appearance of a yam and vice versa. I expect that many people think yams are actually a sweet potato and that many of us have likely not had a true yam.

If you’ve had sweet potato fries in the past, you’ve likely enjoyed them with spicy mayo or curry mayo.  You’ve also likely only had them at a restaurant—at least the ones that were the best tasting.  And I’m sure you’ve thought, why are my sweet potato fries always soggy when I make them at home.  We have no fear; here is a recipe that will help you have great sweet potato at home, any time you want!

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

4-5 small sweet potatoes (or 1 large if that’s all you can get)
½ cup corn starch
¼ – ½ cup club soda
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
  • Peel your sweet potatoes and cut them into French fries.
  • Soak them in cold water for 20 minutes.
  • Set your frying oil to 400C
  • Mix the corn starch and club soda, adding more club soda as needed to dissolve the starch.
  • Drain, and dry the sweet potatoes.
  • Once your frier is ready, dip a clump of the fries into the mixture, and then carefully place them into the oil. Watch for them to clump; if you have chopsticks or a deep fryer, try to separate the fries.
  • Fry for 3-4 minutes or until they are crispy enough to your liking.
  • Evacuate the fries into a paper towel-lined bowl to soak up any excess grease.
  • Remove the cloth, season with some salt, toss and taste.
  • Repeat steps 6 – 9 as needed, and if you need to make more corn starch solution, then do so.
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