Tuesday, June 27, 2006


The difference between sweet potatoes and yams has always escaped me. My fuzzy understanding was that yams were an African crop and sweet potatoes were their cousins from the southern United States. I decided to hit the internet for some sweet potato education but it only confused me more. What I surmised is that there is technically a slight difference between true yams and sweet potatoes, but in the U.S. you'll never really find more than two domestically produced crops whose differences aren't much more than the color of the flesh and shape of the root.

Who cares? I love em either way. Sweet potatoes are solid packages bursting with beta-carotene, vitamins A, B6, C, copper, maganese, iron, and fiber. Eat some today and make your mother proud. A favorite recipe calls for brushing them with olive oil, grilling them until they develop that sweet golden brown color, mixing with chopped cilantro, corn, cumin, onion and a splash lime juice. It makes an amazing summer salad. Pour some wine and be happy.

The WORST task for any cook is peeling potatoes! KILL ME ALREADY!!!

My partner doesn't cook. He comes from a long line of non-cooking Jewish people. Before I met him he would often be spotted in the El Pollo Loco drive-through on his way home from a day of work. His mother is adept at making reservations and stuffing her closet full of boutique purchases. Her kitchen counters are filled with gorgeous orchids, photos and knick-knacks. This is the sign of a good Jewish mother who understands how damaging cooking can be to a fine manicure.

However, all good Jewish people have some innate skill for a few good Jewish basics. The mother-in-law makes one mighty fine brisket! It is fascinating to witness this transformation that occurs at Passover. It's like a cellular memory thing kicks in.

It was during a Jewish holiday that I got my first taste of real latkas. I'm not talking about the crappy "potato pancake" things you can order at IHOP at 3 am to kill time and sober up. Real latkas are crispy on the outside and soft and yielding on the inside. I knew that I would have to try and make them.

I found a recipe that worked and suddenly I was making latkas whenever I could. They are actually super simple. I'm hooked. But being the Gemini that I am, I needed change and started looking into various types of latkas. This recipe for curried sweet potato latkas is flavorful and a fun varation of a latka.

I served these with some grilled tilapia with a spicy rub and some sesamee cucumber salad. The mildy Asian flavors worked well together. For the next batch I will probably pump up the spices a bit and add some grated fresh ginger.


1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled (ugh) and grated coarsely (hire the neighbor's kid to peel em)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
2 tsp curry powder (Be adventurous and use more...)
1 tsp cumin (ditto on the cumin)
salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk (approx.)
Canola oil for frying

Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add eggs and just enough of the milk to make a stiff batter. Add the potatoes and mix. Resulting batter should be moist but not runny.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil in heavy skillet until hot. Drop batter into skillet in 1 to 1 tablespoon sized dobs and flatten. Fry over medium-high heat until golden on each side. Check frequently as sugars will brown quickly. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.


Lis said...

These look so freakin delicious, Kevin! I lurrvve sweet potatoes :)~~
Hubbs has been begging me to learn how to make original latkas, but I've yet to try them. Would you mind sharing that recipe with me? I would be eternally grateful and promise not to sing "shake, shake, shake.. shake, shake, shake..." anymore! :D

Acme Instant Food said...

You've got it Lis. I'll get it to you soon. The trick is to get all the water out of the potatoes.

However, I may need to get your signature on that promise.

**shake, shake, shake, **DAMNIT**

Laura Rebecca said...

Yay! Kevin is back in action (I've missed your posts).

Those latkes look amazing. ("A latke for the 21st century.") I think I'm going to have to make them soon.

KT said...

Hi! I came to your blog based on your latest comment at The Delicious Life. You seemed like someone I would like, so I came to check out the blog. I was right.

I did a post about your blog on my own blog in case you like to read about yourself!

I never had a latke until I met my husband, and now I can't get enough. They're kind of like more compact hash browns. Perhaps someday soon I will attempt to make my own as well.

Rachael said...

These look amazing. Yum. Thanks for the inspiration!

Habeas said...

These look great! I'll have to make them for my family this year.