I’ve always been pretty loyal to regular ol’ orange sweet potatoes.
We usually pick up a big bag on our weekly grocery shopping trip. I use them for breakfast (hash browns with eggs), lunch (loaded grain bowls) and dinner (oven fries). They’re versatile, they’re reliable, they’re healthy, they’re hearty and they’re filling. So I’ve never given many other potatoes much more than a second thought. That is until I had a Japanese sweet potato. Holy yum! Have I been missing out.
Japanese sweet potatoes, also known as murasaki sweet potatoes, have a pretty purple skin with insides that are a buttery shade of yellow. While they’re a bit drier than traditional sweet potatoes, they also happen to be sweeter. They’re packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Traditionally they were grown in Okinawa and Japan (hence, the name), but they can now be found pretty easily, be it at a Japanese grocery store, a regular market, a farmer’s market, or even Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s (which is where we usually get ours).
You can cook and eat Japanese sweet potatoes the same way you would any sweet potato, but because they’re a bit drier, they crisp up even better for oven fries and they make a sturdier base for loaded sweet potatoes, which is what I’m making in today’s post (because I’m sure you never guessed that after reading the title).
The inspo for today’s easy recipe came from the same place that introduced me to Japanese sweet potatoes in the first place, a restaurant here in LA. They were served as a side dish, loaded up with a few simple but elevated ingredients. Namely, crème fraîche (but you can use sour cream), crispy pancetta (which you could sub with bacon), cherry bomb peppers (but you can use any sort of chili pepper you want) and chives (cilantro also works well). These ingredients all helped take the sweet potatoes to another level without a whole lot of extra effort. And even better, as you can see, the ingredients are all easy to interchange. For me, the dish was love at first bite. I wasted no time in hunting down my new found favorite potato (aka Japanese sweet potatoes), and I have been recreating this dish ever since. While it may seem like a recipe that is so easy it almost doesn’t even need a full post, I wanted to share it not only to introduce you to a potato you might not be familiar with, but also to show how simple it is to switch up your side dish routine or you’re sweet potato game. Just don’t blame me if you never want to eat boring ol’ orange sweet potatoes ever again…
ARE YOU A SWEET POTATO FAN, OR DO YOU PREFER TRADITIONAL POTATOES? AND HAVE YOU EVER TRIED, OR HEARD OF, JAPANESE SWEET POTATOES?
Loaded Japanese Sweet Potatoes
5 Japanese sweet potatoes
4 ounces pancetta (or diced bacon)
3/4 cup sour cream (or crème fraîche)
2 tablespoon sesame oil
4-5 hot peppers, sliced (you can use thai, cherry bomb or calabrian)
2 tablespoons chopped chives (cilantro is also delicious)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
A generous pinch of sea salt flakes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse potatoes, pierce them with a knife and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife can easily be inserted through to the center.
While the potatoes are cooking, in a small skillet set over medium-low heat, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, just until it turns crispy brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
To assemble the loaded potatoes, place them on a serving dish and use a spoon to slightly break the potatoes apart. Top with sour cream, then drizzle with the sesame oil before sprinkling on the pancetta, peppers, chives, sesame seeds and salt. Then, dig in (and make sure you get a big bite with all the toppings!)!
These potatoes work well as a side with steak or chicken, or, you can enjoy them as a main dish with a simple salad on the side.