Sweet potato fries. Close to perfect with just a sprinkling of sea salt, and even better with a scattering of furikake, a Japanese condiment made from sesame seeds and nori. I was reading the April issue of Food and Wine on my flight back from New Orleans last week when a photo of sweet potato fries with furikake caught my eye -- they serve them at the Bar at the Peninsula in Chicago. The F+W recipe called for using store-bought furikake, but I decided to make my own simply by adding some ground nori to the gomasio I made recently (prepared versions of furikake usually also contain dried fish, salt, sugar, and sometimes MSG).
For my fries I used a combination of white and orange sweet potatoes, sliced into thin batons with the skin left on -- I love the crispness the skin gives to baked fries. Tossed with a little olive oil and then into a high-heat oven, you can have these fries on the table in no time. The nutty, savory, salty, and mildly ocean-y notes of the sesame-sea salt-nori combination beautifully complement the earthiness of the sweet potatoes. Next time I might try adding some cayenne or crushed red pepper for heat.
baked sweet potato fries with furikake
1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into batons (1/4 inch x 1/4 inch by 2 to 3 inches in length)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 nori sheet, roughly torn and ground in a spice grinder
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Toss the sweet potatoes with about 1 Tbsp of olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (or two). Bake until fries are golden brown and crisp on the edges, about 25 minutes, stirring/turning the pans halfway through (and switching the positions of the pans if you are using two).
Combine the sesame seeds and salt and grind using a mortar and pestle. Stir in the ground nori.
Toss the baked fries with the remaining olive oil and season to taste with the sesame-salt-nori mixture. Eat them while they're hot.