CONTRIBUTED BY KELLY GILLOTTI
I made some steamed beni imo (ベニイモ) and was feeling ho-hum about mashed beni imo or a soup. I wanted something crunchy, like roasted beni imo or beni imo chips, but I don’t have a real oven. We only have a fish grill, which works great for… um… fish, and nothing else, so I made sweet potato cakes in a pan.
I LOVE beni imo! It’s beautiful, delicious, and distinctly Okinawan. I went with Indian spices for this dish since I thought they would complement the sweet potato nicely with coconut. Garam masala is a combination of roasted Indian spices. If you don’t have this on hand, here is a recipe to make it before you get started. It will only take a few extra minutes and is totally worth it, plus you can store it for several months. If that all sounds like too much work, many Japanese grocery stores carry it in their spice section. For the chickpea flour, all you need to do is blend up some dried chickpeas. Taa-da!
The Recipe: Sweet Potato Cakes
- ¼ cup diced onion
- ¼ cup chickpea flour (or coconut, wheat, whatever floats yer boat)
- ½ inch piece of ginger finely grated
- 2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potato
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ghee + more for cooking or use coconut oil
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup coconut flakes
- 3 tbsp coconut milk
- Juice and zest from 3 shikuwasa (シークワーサー)or ½ a lime
Mash the sweet potato, add all the ingredients and mix well. Add more shikuwasa juice if it seems too dry. Form the mix into thin patties.
Heat some ghee in a large pan over medium heat. When the ghee is very hot, add the cakes, and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. You’re looking for a brown and crispy crust.
The Recipe: Coconut Chutney
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 heaping tbsp chickpea flour
- ¼ inch piece of ginger
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 2 dry red chilies (remove seeds if you’d like it less spicy)
- 1 tsp cumin seed
Bring the water to a boil. Pour over the dry coconut in a blender and cover to retain the heat. Let this sit for 5 minutes while you dry roast the chickpea flour. Add this to coconut, along with the ginger and salt. Blend well and pour into a bowl.
In a small pan, heat the ghee. When it’s very hot, add the cumin seeds. When they start sizzling, add the red chilies and cook for 30 seconds or so. Pour this over the coconut in the bowl. This will splatter a little bit. Stir to mix everything together. This is ready to serve.
Top your sweet potato cakes with coconut chutney and cilantro, and serve with a side of green beans or another veggie. I made a side of Sasage long beans (ささげ) which I found at the farmers market.
I left them long instead of chopping into bite sized pieces …
… and cooked them in a pan with a little bit of ghee, water, salt and pepper. They were fun to eat, like noodles!