by Yotam Ottolenghi
Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2011
Cooking on page 32
Yotam Ottolenghi is a popular Israeli-born British chef who is known for his superb vegetarian recipes. Plenty is his second cookbook and this is the second time I have cooked one of his recipes. The first one was caramelized fig, orange and feta salad.
He says the recipe here was inspired by the legendary sweet potato cakes he could buy at a small café, Orna and Ella’s, in Tel Aviv during his university days.
As a child, I wasn’t too keen on sweet potato, squash and/or pumpkin dishes, except for pumpkin pie. I think it was because my mother often added brown sugar to what was, in my mind, supposed to be a savoury vegetable dish.
So let’s see how this one turned out.
Sweet potato cakes
2¼ lbs peeled sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 tsp soy sauce
scant ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp chopped green onion
½ tsp finely chopped fresh red chile (or more if you want them hot)
plenty of butter for frying
3 tbsp Greek yogurt
3 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
salt and black pepper
Steam the sweet potatoes until completely soft, then leave in a colander to drain for at least an hour.
To make the sauce. Whisk together all the sauce ingredients until smooth; set aside.
Once the sweet potatoes have lost most of their liquid, place them in a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients (except the butter). Mix everything together, preferably by hand, until the mix is smooth and even; do not over mix. The mixture should be sticky; if it’s runny add some more flour.
Melt some butter in a non-stick frying pan. For each cake, use a tablespoon to life some mix into the pan and flatten with the back of the spook to create a not-too-perfect disc that is roughly 2 inches in diameter and 3/8-inch thick. Fry the cakes on medium heat for about 6 minutes on each side, or until you get a nice brown crust. Place in between two sheets of paper towels to soak up the excess butter. Serve hot or warm, with the sauce on the side.
How it played out
Over the years I’ve come to love sweet potatoes, but I still prefer them with a savoury, rather than a sweet, twist.
I love all the ingredients for this recipe, so I made it as written, except that I didn’t bother to soak up the excess butter. Frankly, I didn’t use too much butter to begin with so didn’t feel the need to get rid of what was left.
If you like sweet potatoes, or even if you think you don’t, give this recipe a try. It’s easy to make, nourishing, colourful and delicious. And the sauce is the perfect accompaniment. I bought more sweet potatoes and yogurt today, so we must like it. 🙂
Serve these as a side dish, or make them smaller and serve as an appetiser or a snack with drinks. Use the sauce as a dipper. I reckon everyone will love them.
We love potatoes. Here’s a link to a street-side breakfast stall where we ate wonderful Indian potato cakes. Yummo!