Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Asian Sweet Potato Fritters

Yes. I'm frying again. Can't help it though. The culprit is a recipe from a Thai cookbook I found at the library. Yes...that too. I am a frequent visitor to my local library, which I consider the best resource in our town. I am thrilled with this new book. A revisionist take on simple Thai food that is easy to follow and looks scrumptious. I plan on making a few recipes but time runs away from me and I am forced to return my copy. Then I find the book again, or should I say the book finds me. This time I am determined to experiment. 

The first recipe bowls me over. I do not really get past the first page. I have everything the recipe asks for. But it calls for a deep fried sweet potato. The gods of frying do battle in my conscience and win. I guess I am an easy mark. Please remember my last blog was shallow fried chicken. It doesn't count does it???? That all-round crispy texture only comes from a dip in a hot oil bath!!  The hell with cholesterol. Let's fry some sweet taters.

I make this thick gooey batter chockful of grated coconut and sesame seeds. Another component is an aromatic paste made with cilantro  roots and garlic. Luckily my cilantro leaves have some elongated roots. I hurriedly grind paste. The batter looks insipidly pale. Did I mention it is thick as glue?? I refer to the recipe which alludes to this texture quite jokingly. The author Leela Punyaratabandhu definitely has a sense of humor! I just realized she is a food blogger. Her blog page has the identical recipe posted!!! Talk about good taste!!

Now let me start my version. Potatoes are peeled and cut into chip shapes. My trusty frying pan simmer with a lot of canola oil. I do have a dedicated steel perforated spoon used for frying. What can I say, I live dangerously. The exhaust comes on. Potatoes swirl in the batter. Just like the recipe says, the batter adheres to the wedges. I drop a handful into hot oil. As they sizzle, I doctor some sweet chile sauce with cilantro. And watch the pan.

Adapted from Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu 
Serves 4

4 Sweet Potatoes or Yams
1/2 cup Rice flour
3 heaping tablespoons Cornstarch
1 tablespoon dried Coconut flakes
1 teaspoon Toasted Sesame seeds
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked Black pepper
1 tablespoon Aromatic Paste (recipe below) ( optional)
1/3 cup Water 
2 cups Canola oil for frying
1/2 cup Sweet Chile sauce
1 teaspoon Cilantro leaves

Aromatic paste
6-7 Cilantro roots
1 entire Garlic pod
1 tablespoon ground Black pepper

Clean cilantro stems well. 

Peel garlic cloves.

Grind cilantro stems, garlic cloves and black pepper to a paste.

It will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Place rice flour, cornstarch, grated coconut, sesame seeds, salt pepper and aromatic paste in a bowl.

Slowly add water to make a thickish paste.

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into small wedges.

Add wedges to batter. 

Let them hang out in the batter while you heat the oil. Test the oil by dropping a tiny bit of batter. It should sizzle and swim to the surface immediately. Or wait for 4-5 minutes to be sure.

Drop the wedges carefully into hot oil.

They will sizzle and brown in 4-5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to turn them while they fry.

Scoop the fries out onto some paper so the oil gets absorbed. 

Dip the fries in Sweet Chile sauce and indulge.


If you do not have cilantro stems and are not up to grinding the aromatic paste, leave it out. You could chop cilantro leaves and some garlic and add it to the batter if you wish.

OMG... these fries are addictive! You taste potato, sesame, some coconut, all in one crispy bite. I can't stop eating them. And it's not yet time for dinner.  They are not going last that long!! I love the flavor of crunchy potatoes dipped in spicy sauce. I look through the book for some more inspiration. Authentic Thai food is a misnomer in my part of the world. Then a long trek to Pok Pok in Brooklyn one evening transports me to Siam. That meal is the closest thing to food I have eaten in Thailand. I do hope this book will take me there.