Furikake French Fries

When this past Saturday rolled around, I didn’t have energy to cook ANYTHING. I woke up at a defeating 11:45 am. The snacking situation was bleak; there were no sweets lying around because lately I’ve been too exhausted to cook dinner, let alone bake.  With the snack supply from my recent Japan trip already dwindling, I decided to pop out to Sunrise Mart, a local Japanese grocery store, looking for a quick fix.

I decided to blend American junk food with wholesome Japanese goodness by making these Furikake French Fries.  Furikake is a dry topping that commonly goes on top of rice or onigiri rice balls.  You can find many variations of it; my favorite are noritamago (seaweed and egg), shake (salmon) and umejiso (plum and shiso).  I made variations of my Japanese sweet potato (satsumaimo) fry recipe to create three salty twists on the vegetable that I like to feature in many of my pastry projects.  With savory toppings featuring miso, Kewpie mayo, and spicy Korean Gochujang hot chili paste, one simple spud was turned into three brave new worlds of sweet and salty harmony.

Prep time can’t get any quicker than the few minutes that it takes to throw together this recipe.  While munching on these addictive fries and plowing through Season 2 of Westworld, all was right with my world.  I want to create more easy umami moments like this.  It doesn’t take too much effort to add flavor and creative depth to even your laziest moments.  Convenience is key, so go stock up on toppings.  Scroll down for my recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Satsumaimo sweet potato (1 large or two small)
  • Furikake topping (I used noritamago, umejizo, and shake to create three different versions of my recipe.)
  • Miso paste
  • Kewpie mayonnaise
  • Gochujang hot chili paste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut one large satsumaimo potato into similarly sized strips.  Let the strips soak in cold water for twenty minutes to remove some of their starch.  Drain and pat dry.  This soaking process will make your fries less soggy after cooking!
  3. Coat the fries in a little bit of olive oil.  Make sure to cover all sides.
  4. Spread the strips evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
  5. Take fries out and jostle so that all sides cook.  Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. To create an umami miso sauce, mix equal parts white miso with Kewpie mayonnaise.  This combination can be on the salty side (how I like it!), but consider adding slightly more mayonnaise than miso.  For the spicy sauce, mix 1/4 part Gochujang chili paste with 3/4 part Kewpie mayonnaise.
  7. Pair these sauces with your favorite furikake flavors!  The fry/furikake combination tastes great with unflavored mayonnaise as well… no need to whip up the sauces.

Kyoto Chakin Shibori Sweet Potato (京都茶巾しぼりスイートポテト)

For me, this treat is a one-way ticket back to my study abroad time in Kyoto last year.  Fresh/weary from the plane, my entire exchange student group visited a vegetable farm with their respective host families.  Despite the abnormal autumn heat, a morning working on the farm was deemed to be the perfect bonding activity for us.  To my surprise, the program organizers were right!

I was assigned to labor in a sweet potato field with my host parents.  Unlike American sweet potatoes, the Japanese sweet potato is a vivid red on the outside and is pale yellow on the inside.  We were instructed to root around in the dirt for these flashes of magenta-red that shone brightly in the dark soil.  My elderly host parents were always a few steps ahead of me in their search for the perfect tuber.

Other groups harvested edamame and tongarashi (the Japanese chili pepper).  After gathering all that we could carry, we cooked the cumulative bounty of our morning efforts.

For this wagashi, I attempted to use cloth to achieve a desired twist shape (chakin means “tea cloth,” and shibori means “to tie”).  The dough was a bit too sticky, however, and it was a challenge to separate it from the cloth.  I’ll make future batches using more potato and less milk.

These wagashi have a subtle taste and were a perfect companion to my morning coffee.  Their coloring is due to a healthy smattering of cinnamon and brown sugar.  As in all wagashi, subtlety was the key.  The sweetness and the zing of the cinnamon were merely hinted at.

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host family potato farm

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