Since sweet potatoes are in season and sold in copious amount in the market lately, I couldn’t help myself and have bought couple of kilos home. For days, I have been cooking them in soups, curries; baked them as fries, smashed them with mango chutney as a side, you name it! And when I saw that last one sat on the kitchen counter for sometimes, I was’t entirely sure what I should do with it anymore. I felt, for a very short moment, that I was afraid to serve yet another sweet potato dish on our dinning table that evening. But the feeling of guilt has quickly diminished as I remembered there was one sweet potato dish I adored as a child, I shouldn’t call it a ‘dish’ because it was actually a snack, a street snack that I grew up with and I very much like to eat it again, now, in Berlin!
Macau was once famous for its street food and roadside restaurants. There were many different street food stalls scattered all over the city, selling food ranging from dim sum, wok fried noodles, congees (rice porridge) to small snacks like charcoal roasted chestnuts, egg waffles, fish balls skewers and the list goes on. One of my favorite childhood street foods was fried sweet potato in batter, they were only sold from mobile food stalls in the old city centre of Macau. I vaguely remember, there were only one or two stalls selling this particular snack. Alongside the sweet potato, there were halves bell peppers, sliced ‘Zongzi’ (pyramid shaped plain glutinous rice dumpling) and smoked sausage slices, and maybe some other food as well but I can no longer recall. The food was fried in a very hot deep fryer and once done, would be lined up on a wire rack which was shaped like a container to cool down a bit, I suppose it helped the fried food to stay crunchy. On one side of the rack, stood some sauces and dips to go with the snacks: Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce and some five spiced salt. My favorite one from the stall was sweet potato! The batter was light and crunchy on the outside and on the inside, the sweet potato was cooked to perfection, soft but still remained a bite, tasted naturally sweet with an irresistible aroma, almost floral. From time to time, my mother would buy a selection of these snacks back home, all wrapped in waxed paper bags, with a few wooden skewers sticking out from the bags. My sisters and I would eagerly open the bags, and enjoyed these treats with appreciation. It was a treat for me then, but it is now going to be a treat for my daughter Lilly and a feel-good memory that I enjoy whenever I make this snack!
Note: feel free to replace chickpea flour and potato starch with all purpose flour, although I like the nutty flavour of chickpea flour and I want to make it gluten free. Don’t worry too much if the batter appears a bit thick, it will coat the potato slices evenly.
Sweet Potato Tempura served with Sriracha Mayo
- 1 large sweet potato, scrub cleaned (no need to peel), sliced into 4mm disc
- vegetable oil for frying
- Sea salt
For the batter:
- Scant 1 cup chickpea flour
- 5 tbsp. potato starch
- (or all purpose flour to replace the flour mix above)
- 1 cup full cream milk (plus more if needed)
- 1 egg, beaten
- A pinch of salt
For the Sriracha Mayo:
- 6 tbsp. of mayonnaise
- 2 tbs. of Sriracha (or to taste)
- A squeeze of lime juice
First, prepare the batter. Combine flours, milk, and egg in a large mixing bowl. Stir until smooth and free of any lumps (if the batter is too thick, add a bit more milk, little at a time, the batter should be resemble pancake batter but a bit on a thicker side). Set aside for at least 15 minutes (after resting, the batter will thicken a bit, just add a little more milk to loosen it up again before frying).
To make the Sriracha mayo, combine all ingredients well in a bowl and set aside.
Heat oil (about 5 cm deep) in a wok or heavy bottom pan, to test if the oil is hot enough, drop a little batter in the oil, if it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready.
Dip the sweet potato slices in the batter one at a time, and then carefully place it into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan, immediately turn the heat down to medium ( keep an eye on the potatoes as they are quite easily turning brown, keep turning them if they are getting brown too quickly), cook for 1 minute or so on each side, then turn again, cook for a further minute (so all in all about 2 minutes on each side). To test if the sweet potato is cooked, use your wooden chopstick to poke through it and if it goes through easily, it is cooked.
Transfer the cooked sweet potato slices on a cooling rack line with kitchen papers to absorb the excess oil. Cool slightly and then transfer them on a serving plate.
Served with the Sriracha Mayo.