We all adore certain pantry staples. Kefir and crème fraîche are two of my favorites. I’ve been testing new ways to improve on roasting sweet potatoes in the oven, and I found that a combination of steaming and roasting works great for a dish like this for both the texture and the extra set of aroma molecules that comes through. The first step, partial steaming, keeps the moisture inside the sweet potato while cooking, and the second step, uncovered roasting, helps create a robust flavor profile. I recommend using fragrant nuts. Toasted hazelnuts are a good substitute for the peanuts.
The Flavor Approach: Butter works as the fat of choice here due to its higher smoke point. As the butter melts, it separates into its constituents—fat, water, sugars, and milk solids—which undergo caramelization and the Maillard reaction.
The sugars concentrate as the water evaporates during cooking. Fish sauce adds a spot of umami to the sauce, you can use vegan fish sauce as an alternative. The peanuts and scallions provide crunch against the softer textures of the potato and the dressing.
For the sweet potatoes:
4 sweet potatoes (each 7 oz), preferably a yellow-fleshed variety such as Garnet or Jewel
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Fine sea salt
For the dressing:
½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce (optional)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Fine sea salt
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, both green and white parts
2 tablespoon roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes, such as Aleppo, Maras, or Urfa
½ teaspoon lime zest
Reprinted from The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020. Photo: Nik Sharma
Keywords: sweet potatoes, creme fraiche, maple syrup, flavor equation, nik sharma