When you go out to a fancy restaurant, one of the things that probably catches your attention is how pretty the dishes are, and how beautifully garnished. I always wonder how many hands have helped create those masterpieces, and how long it would take me to replicate them at home.
There is one garnish that is quite often used in Peru to make a dish prettier and livelier. And I love to use this when having dinner parties at home, because it’s very easy and cheap to make. This is one of the most colorful, crispy and delicious garnishes, and it is made with the humble sweet potato.
Garnish any dish you want with a topping of brightly orange fried sweet potato strings, or serve as a side with breaded chicken cutlets. They are also a great addition to ham or turkey sandwiches, adding texture and a lot of flavor. And the best part is that whoever eats them will consider you a stellar chef.
To make them, peel the sweet potato with a vegetable peeler. Then, using a mandoline -we adore the Benriner- julienne the potato into very thing strings. Transfer to a bowl and rinse several times with cold water to get rid of the starch. When the water comes out clean, drain.
Dry the sweet potato strings very well using a kitchen towel. Heat 2 cups vegetable oil in a skillet or a saucepan, at high heat. Working with small quantities at a time, fry the sweet potato for a few minutes -do not let them brown-. If you add a bigger batch, the oil will overflow and that could be dangerous because it will be extremely hot. With a slotted spoon transfer the fried sweet potato to a plate or rack covered with paper towels, to drain the oil.
You can make as many fried sweet potato strings as you want, and when completely cool store in tightly sealed tins until ready to use. They will remain crispy up to a week.
For variations, use regular waxy potatoes and cook the same way. Yucca is very similar but skip the rinsing step.
Easy, right? But don´t tell anyone… it´s our secret.