Recipe: mirin sweet potatoes
Yes, another orange vegetable. You have to get through your vegetables first before commencing the debauchery that will be Valentine’s Day. Debauchery is next week. This week: vegetables. But I swear this won’t even be like a vegetable. It’s practically candy. I love roasted sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries, sweet potato pie, sweet potato mash… But that Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole? Not. A. Fan. Ever on the lookout for great new ways to prepare vegetables, I was immediately drawn to this recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appétit: White Sweet Potatoes with Mirin and Honey.
gold sweet potatoes and purple yams
I didn’t know there were white and gold sweet potatoes. I just grabbed the ones closest to me which happened to be not the sweet potatoes I was supposed to get. Then I was in the Asian grocery store (not the one in Boulder, the one in Broomfield – POM) and I picked up some Okinawa sweet potatoes which I believe are actually yams according to a rule that yams have different colored flesh than the exterior skins. Okinawa sweet potatoes are purple on the inside. I had no idea how it would fare in the recipe, but I wanted to give it a try.
all you need: sweet potatoes, honey, vinegar, oil, mirin, butter, and salt
pierce with a fork
You can either bake the potatoes wrapped in foil for a half hour, or you can nuke them in the microwave for five minutes. I took the five minute option. Don’t forget to pierce them all over with a fork if you choose to nuke the sweet potatoes. Let them steam in a covered bowl for a few minutes to loosen up the skin. I think it’s supposed to facilitate the peeling, but I just used a knife. While the sweet potatoes enjoy their sauna, you can mix the “dressing” made of mirin, honey, vinegar, and salt. Yes, that’s it.
after microwaving, steam in a bowl covered in plastic
mixing the mirin, honey, vinegar, and salt together
Slice the sweet potatoes into 1- to 1.5-inch thick rounds and toss them with the dressing in a bowl. Be gentle so as not to break them apart. Here is where I began to suspect that sweet potatoes were a better option. The purple sweet potatoes (yams) had cracks and were considerably drier than their golden counterparts.
thick slices of sweet potato
toss the slices with the mirin dressing
All during this prep, you should have a cast iron skillet heating up in your oven to 450°F. Now for the exciting part… Please use proper heat protection when you remove the skillet from the oven because burning your hand and then dropping a really hot skillet on your foot would surely ruin your day. Set the skillet on your stove top and pour some vegetable oil into the pan. Carefully swirl it around to coat the base. Then pour the potatoes into the pan. If you try to add them one by one (like I did) they will splatter and make a big mess. If you add them all at once, they won’t make a big mess. Pop the skillet into the oven and roast the potatoes. Flip them over after about 15 minutes and roast a little longer. My purple sweet potatoes got a little brown from the caramelized sauce, but they were still purple on the inside. The gold sweet potatoes turned a vibrant orange.
arrange the pieces in the skillet
flip them once
When the sweet potatoes are done, remove them from the pan to a serving platter. Then return to the pan and add a few tablespoons of water. It should sizzle and you should be able to dissolve the caramelized bits with a spoon or spatula. Stir in the butter while the pan is still hot to thicken the sauce, then drizzle it over the sweet potatoes.
sweet potatoes on a platter
pour sauce over the sweet potatoes just before serving
This is a terrific side dish. The edges become crisp and chewy (from the caramelization) while the inside is silky soft. Okay, the insides of the golden sweet potatoes were silky soft. The purple sweet potatoes were more starchy inside and chewy outside. Not sure I’d do this again with the purple sweet potatoes, but it is a definite repeat with the other sweet potato. I’d also be willing to reduce the amount of butter in the sauce. I don’t know that it needs that much because it tasted great when only half of the butter had melted. You’re all probably gasping, “But your blog is use real butter!” Chill out. Have some sweet potato. It’s all good.
Mirin Sweet Potatoes
from Bon Appétit February 2012
2 large gold or white sweet potatoes (approximately 2 lbs.)
1/2 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
2 tbsps honey
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsps corn oil
2 tbsps water
2 tbsps unsalted butter
coarse sea salt for seasoning (I totally forgot to do this)
Set a well-seasoned 8- to 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and microwave on high power for 5 minutes. Or you can wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and bake at 450°F for about 30-35 minutes until tender at the edges, but still hard in the middles. Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let them steam for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the mirin, honey, vinegar, and salt together. Peel the sweet potatoes and slice them into 1- to 1.5-inch rounds. Place the rounds in a bowl and toss them with the mirin sauce. Carefully take the skillet out of the oven (please use proper protective mitts) and pour the oil into the pan. Swirl it around to coat the pan and add the potatoes and mirin all at once. Arrange the sweet potatoes in a flat, single layer in the pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the bottoms are caramelized, then flip and bake another 5-7 minutes. Remove the sweet potatoes from the pan to a serving platter. Pour the water into the hot pan and stir it around with a spoon or spatula, scraping off the caramelized bits. Stir in the butter until melted and pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes. Season with salt. Serves 4 as a side dish.