tinkering with tubers: sweet potatoes done different

March 25th, 2009

I don’t often post my husband A’s recipes here, not because I don’t like them. On the contrary, A is a very creative cook who fearlessly combines spices, sauces, and ingredients like mixed media. Yemenite spice mix with Thai hot sauce and local butter? No problem. If it complements his main ingredient, A uses it.

The reason I don’t often post his recipes is that they’re so… well… off the cuff. Getting him to tell you what he’s put in his star dish is like herding cats, to use a dusty old metaphor.

For example:

“Man, A… these sweet potatoes are fantastic! Whadja put in ’em? Butter, right?”
“Yes, butter. Also some hot sauce and coconut syrup.”
“And soy sauce, right?”
“Yes, just a little bit. And some salt. That’s it.”
“That’s it? Wow. Wait there’s some pepper in here too, right?”
“Oh right, yeah. Ground pepper.”
“Mmm… So how much coconut syrup?”
“Oh who knows. Just a little.”
“And hot sauce?”
“You know. A bit.”

One hour after dinner:

“Oh I forgot. I put in some baharat too.”
“Oh, baharat!”
“Yeah, and also some paprika.”

At this point, I’ve given up trying to figure out precise amounts. A has no idea himself. And I’m sure that tomorrow he’ll remember some other ingredient he’s forgotten to mention today. No matter. That’s part of the charm of his recipes—he enjoys tinkering and I enjoy the tasty results.

Here’s as close as I can get to a recipe for A‘s delicious sweet potatoes. They’re sweet and spicy with a little bit of heat, yet they’re also buttery and comforting. Do some tinkering of your own, and see what kind of kitchen alchemy you come up with.

a’s spicy sweet potatoes

olive oil
sriracha hot sauce
coconut “thin sauce” (syrup) or molasses
splash of goji berry wine
a sprinkle of baharat spice mix
a sprinkle of paprika
salt and pepper to taste

  • Melt some butter and olive oil in a large enamel pot or pan on medium heat.
  • Coarsely chop 2 large sweet potatoes and soak them in water for a minute.
  • Drain the sweet potatoes and add them to the pan.
  • Stir and add spices and sauces.
  • Cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Towards the end of cooking, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Correct seasoning and serve.

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