If you haven’t been lucky enough yet to encounter a Japanese sweet potato, I urge you to seek them out, especially if you’re a fan of the traditional American variety. The Japanese varietyâwhich I find at my nearby Asian supermarket but I’ve also seen at Whole Foodsâ is smaller and sweeter than a yam, with a yellow-flesh interior and a redder skin, they’re also usually smaller in overall size. You can prepare them however you’d normally prepare your sweet potatoes, but lately I’ve been steaming them (faster than roasting), followed by a quick sear and then coating with a miso-vinaigrette. The idea came from the wonderful book Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, and ever since I discovered her recipe I’ve been doing nothing else. Actually I’ve been doing a lot more steaming in general lately because it’s just a quick and easy way to prepare vegetables without the fuss of a big pot of water or waiting for the oven to warm up to 400 degrees. Also, in the case of vegetables like beets, it keeps all the nutrients locked in.
TO STEAM and COOK: Scrub the potatoes and steam them whole with the skins on over boiling water (For a makeshift steamer I just stick a colander inside of a large pot and fill the bottom with about an inch of water). You’ll know the potatoes are done because you can easily pierce them with a pointed knifeâit should take about 20 minutes to cook through, depending on how large the potatoes are. Remove the potatoes and let them cool a bit before cutting them in half, then sear them cut side down in a skillet slicked with a bit of peanut or sunflower oil, just enough so that they get a bit of a crust.
You can happily eat the potatoes just like this, drizzled with a little sesame oil, some rice vinegar or ponzu sauce, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. But, if you want to make them AMAZING, make this miso-dressing and brush it all over the sweet potatoes while they’re still warm:
TO MAKE THE MISO-DRESSING: In a jar combine 1 big spoonful of white or yellow miso paste; 1 tsp (or so) of ginger, grated or minced; 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced; a splash of soy sauce; a drizzle of agave or honey; then fill the jar 1/3 of the way with rice wine vinegar; 1/3 of the way with sesame oil; and the last 1/3 of the way with grapeseed or canola oil. Shake well to combine then taste to see if it needs a bit more acid or sweetener. Brush on your warm potatoes and then sprinkle them liberally with sesame seeds. Save any remaining sauce for salads or to top grains.
For a quick meal, I like to serve the potatoes with brown rice and whatever green vegetable I have on hand, say broccoli or spinach (above is bok choy) that I stir-fry or, you guessed it, steamed.