Monday, May 31, 2010

Patates (Fried Sweet Potatoes)

Fried potatoes are nothing new to my American palate.  Though my intention is to avoid them like the plague, french fries somehow have a way of sneaking into our house at least once a month.  And, though I scoff at their presence in these moments of our collective household weakness, I must admit that more than a couple of these greasy starch sticks find their way into my mouth.  What can I say - they are one of the four basic food groups of my generation (soda, burgers and candy bars being the remaining three).  So, naturally, when I learned that the people of Guinea are just as fixated with the frying of starchy vegetables as we Americans are, I figured it would be a good way to join the two worlds. 

In lieu of the potato, Guineans have found an affinity with the use of sweet potatoes and plantains.  Hoping to add some color and a speck more of nutritional value to my meal, I opted to use sweet potatoes.  The recipe only lists oil as an ingredient but doesn't list the quantity needed.  Simply, that is because it will vary depending on the pot you use to cook the sweet potatoes.  I used a medium sized pot, therefore needed a bit more oil than a small batch would require.  About an inch of oil in the pot should be all you need to make the patates.  Vegetable oil was my oil of choice because, honestly, it is cheap.

Ingredients:

3-4 medium sweet potatoes
oil
salt, to taste

Instructions:
  1. Cut sweet potatoes in long 1/2 inch wedges.
  2. Heat oil until very hot in a fry pan or electric fryer.
  3. Put a little salt on plantains and fry until done. The sweet potatoes will be a deep orange and should be crisp.
A similar variation of this recipe, called "Loco" in southern Guinea, calls for large chunks of plantains to be fried in a pot of palm oil.  Patates and Loco are snack foods that are commonly found in markets and on streets all over western Africa. They are often served with a very oily onion, tomato and dried fish sauce.  For Americans, however, they taste just fine with a dab of ketchup and a sprinkle of salt.
 
(The original recipe came from this site: http://friendsofguinea.org/aboutguinea/recipes.shtml#yassa)

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