In the tropics, they are cheap and available all year ’round. In the Philippines, sweet potatoes are either boiled or sliced and fried with brown sugar. Boiled sweet potatoes are common snacks in rural areas. Fried sweet potatoes tossed with brown sugar and threaded on bamboo skewers, known as kamote cue, is a street food found all over the country. In Japan, they have something similar to the kamote cue called daigaku imo.
Max’s, a restaurant that has been around for decades, has been serving sweet potato fries for as long as I can remember. This humble root crop, a staple in many Asian, African and Pacific cuisines, didn’t appear as a “gourmet” food in North America until quite recently. For some reason, sweet potato fries are becoming popular.
The sweet potato is a root crop but the tuber is not the only part of the plant that’s edible. In the Philippines and many Asian countries, there tender shoots and leaves are also eaten.
But what are sweet potatoes like? Are they really just a sweeter version of potatoes? Well, they’re starchy like potatoes but they contain less moisture so there is less spatter when they are cooked as fries. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes “may be one of nature’s unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene” which, ironically or not, is a health benefit you can enjoy by actually adding some fat to your diet.
It’s important to have some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable. Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes.
I am a fan of sweet potatoes and I have a couple of sweet potato recipes coming up.