Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Yam Sticks

My first (real) job came at the age of fourteen and was in the culinary department of a retirement community. I started as a server, but over the three years of my employ, took on any job they threw at me. At one point, my job entailed calling the orders on "the line," which after watching several season of Top Chef, I now realize is a really tough job!
One of my favorite things the kitchen served was something called "yam sticks." I am pretty sure that before that time, I hadn't even tasted a yam (or a sweet potato)! It just wasn't something my parents made and/or liked, I guess. You know how that goes. These yam sticks were battered in something... and deep fried. They were gorgeous orange mush on the inside, crispy on the outside, and perfectly sweet.
I have never found yam sticks again. In September, at the LA Fair, I saw a cart that touted "yam sticks" as one of their main attractions. Imagine my disappointment when handed a plate of sweet potato fries. Delicious, but not yam sticks.

I decided to take matters into my own hands. Since I am not the proud owner of a deep fryer, nor does my memory serve me well enough to try to duplicate a batter I haven't tasted in nearly ten years, I decided to go alternative and "bread" these bad boys with sesame seeds.
First, I boiled a couple large yams until they were tender, but not totally soft. Fork tender, I guess. Let them cool, but while they're still slightly warm you peel them and cut into pieces approximately 2 1/2 inches x 1 inch x 1/2 inch.
Then, roll them in sesame seeds, pushing gently to help them stick to the yams. I mixed the sesame seeds with a bit of whole wheat flour, but that basically did nothing (feel free to try it).
After that, you'll pan fry your sticks in some canola oil over medium heat, for about a minute each side, until golden brown and crispy. Let rest on a paper towel.
A lot of mine got charred, but as I've shared in the past, I sort of like burnt food. You'll have a lot of yam sticks on your hands. If you're feeding just two people, you'll be fine with just using one medium-large yam.
Oh, and they're definitely not as good as I remember, but is anything ever? I still like them. Maybe next time I will try panko crumbs.

I won't be making these for Thanksgiving, though. Our sweet potato dish this year will be Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes, a recipe I hope to share in the near future.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Check out this recipe and more on Yam Sticks on Foodista!

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