People and Food: Seared Sweet-Potato "Fries"

A savory, spicy snack.

Sweet potato fries
Seared Sweet-Potato “Fries”Lynda Morris Childress

We spend summers on our Hunter 31, Katie 3, cruising the coast and ­islands near our home port of Hamilton, Ontario. Last summer, after ­spending ­several glorious, sunny July days anchored off Beau Rivage Island in Wanderers Channel, it was time to start the multiday voyage home. Our provisions were running low, so one calm day I decided to experiment with some sweet potatoes I had — they'd make a tasty snack. I also had an ­onion and a jar of jalapeño peppers, I could use them. Now I needed a ­dipping sauce. I scanned my galley lockers and discovered jars of Dijon mustard and horseradish... these would do. As we sailed and savored the results, we marveled at how, with a little creativity, a few simple ingredients could ­provide such a delicious snack.

Seared Sweet-Potato "Fries"

  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 2 medium-size sweet potatoes
  • 1 -2 jarred jalapeño peppers (optional)
  • 1 small yellow onion (optional)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt, to taste

Prepare dipping sauce (see below) and set aside. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges. Slice onion and jalapeno peppers into rings. Set aside. Add a swirl of olive oil to a large nonstick saute pan to coat, and heat over medium to ­medium-high flame. Spread sweet potato wedges over ­bottom of pan. When a light ­golden-brown sear forms (anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes), flip fries with a spatula and repeat on other side, adding a bit more oil if needed. When seared, add about 1/4 cup water to the pan. As water cooks off, quickly test for doneness: fries should be a bit tender, but still firm when poked with a fork. (If not done, add 1/4 cup more water and cook off again). ­Immediately remove potatoes from pan to a plate. Repeat with remaining fries until all are done. Note: the pan will get hotter as you go, so searing time will decrease. When fries are done, set aside and, in the same pan, quick-saute the sliced onion. To serve, arrange fries on a serving dish, salt to taste, and garnish with sliced onions and jalapenos. Serve warm, with dipping sauce.

Spicy Dipping Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish (or to taste)
  • Whisk together until well blended.

Preparation: At anchor & underway
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: easy

Cook's Notes: Use your imagination with this basic recipe. To spice things up, sprinkle the fries with a bit of paprika, cumin or chili powder before searing. Use whatever strikes your fancy (or whatever you have on hand) for a compatible dipping sauce or garnish. Serves two.