Let me begin by saying that Rich does not care for sweet potatoes.
I don’t either, really, if we are talkin’ about that marshmallow and brown sugar thing that folk trot out at the holidays; so, when I told him what we were having for dinner, and he fixed his plate, he was a wee, tiny bit apprehensive…
His remark after the first bite?
“You can make these again!”
I thought so. It is all about the seasonings and the sauces and the prep.
The original recipe, from The Pho Cookbook, called for shrimp and rice flour and cilantro and mint.
I had leftover grilled chicken and corn, could not find rice flour at the market I was shopping at that day, and do not particularly care for cilantro or mint in cooking; so, I made a few changes.
Really tasty potato cakes!
•2 tbsp water
•2-1/2 tsp sugar
•1-1/2 tbsp lime juice
•1/2 tsp rice vinegar
•2 tsp fish sauce
•1 garlic clove, minced
•1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
•2 tbsp finely chopped carrot
•1 tbsp chopped shallot*
•2 cups grated sweet potato
•1/4 tsp Kosher salt
•2 tbsp chopped shallot*
•3/4 cup cooked corn kernels
•1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
•1/4 cup flour
•1/2 tsp fish sauce
•1/8 tsp black pepper
To Cook and Serve:
•Sweet chili sauce
*I used freeze dried shallots, at a ratio of one teaspoon freeze dried for each tablespoon of fresh chopped. Worked a treat.
First, the sauce: whisk the water together with the sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar until the sugar has dissolved. Add the fish sauce, then pour over the veggies in a bowl and toss to coat.
Let the sauce stand for at least 15 minutes before serving, or, make it ahead, cover, and chill for up to three days.
Sauce made and stashed in the fridge, let’s get to the sweet potato cakes.
Grate the sweet potato (most of one large sweet potato), place in a bowl, and add the Kosher salt.
Using your hands (messy, I know, but, sometimes, you gotta get your hands dirty, and this is one of those times it is definitely worth it) massage the salt into the shredded sweet potato until the mixture is moist and limp.
Rinse the potatoes, then drain.
Wrap the potatoes in paper towels and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
Note: I started my potato cakes well ahead of time and squeezed, then set them to drain in a sieve, then squeezed again with my hand through the sieve to as much liquid out as possible.
Cut your cooked chicken (I was using leftover butter grilled thighs and drumsticks) into pieces, then chop really well, or… pop it into your processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until it is well and truly minced.
I also had one leftover grilled cob of corn, so I cut the kernels off, and then chopped them and added to the chicken in a mixing bowl along with the shallots, fish sauce, and black pepper.
Give the potatoes one more squeeze, then stir into the chicken mixture in the bowl.
Lightly beat the egg and stir into potato and chicken mixture, then add the flour and, again working with your hands, mix into the mixture until it has been nicely incorporated.
Full Disclosure: some of my potato cakes held together better than others, but, in the end, it didn’t really matter, they were all terrific in the lettuce cups!
Divide your potato mixture into eight cakes.
For me, a 1/4 cup oval measure worked a treat, giving me eight more or less evenly sized quenelles for cooking.
Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large, low skillet over medium high heat.
Add four of the sweet potato cakes and gently flatten them out in the skillet.
Cook for two minutes, then flip and cook for another two minutes or so, until both sides are golden brown and a bit crispity.
Transfer to a rack set in a pan in a warm (200º) oven and repeat with the remaining four sweet potato cakes.
Keep the cakes warm in the oven until ready to serve.
I had Iceberg lettuce, which worked a treat, but you could use butter lettuce, Romaine, even endive leaves.
Place a sweet potato cake in a lettuce leaf, spoon some of the sauce over, and add a sprinkling of parsley.
We also added a drizzle of sweet chili sauce.