Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes

I love to roast veggies. I’ll roast just about any veg throughout the year. Nothing brings out the natural sweetness and deepens the complex flavors of veggies, like high heat. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s figured this out. I was flipping through Alice Water’s newest book “The Art of Simple Food” when I saw a great little passage that said something like, (imagine in Alice Water’s voice) “People ask me, what have you done with these vegetables?! (since I don’t have the book, I’m making this up from memory, but let’s imagine she then says) I respond by telling my friends, I drizzled olive oil and sprinkled salt over them and roasted them”.

Guess this roasting thing is catching on. Maybe thousand of generations of ancestors were on to something.

Japanese sweet potatoes1jpg

Aren’t they a beautiful color combination?

Recently I discovered something that just begs to be roasted. Japanese sweet potatoes. I found some locally grown spuds and have been popping them in the oven every week. I may have had them in vegetable tempura platters at sushi restaurants, but hadn’t seen them anywhere else.

They have the deep rust-colored skin of garnet or jewel yams, but the flesh is an opaque bright white. They are starchy and less fiberous than yams, but sweeter than a standard Russet or Yukon Gold potato. The sugars in the Japanese sweet potatoes caramelize in the oven and become a confection. You’ll hardly believe you are “eating your vegetables”.

So, if you happen to see them in your local market, give them a try. Both vendors I bought them from, didn’t know how to really sell their merits, so I tried them out, just hoping they’d be good. I had no idea they’d become a new household obsession. If you leave the skin on, you get even more nutitional goodness, but it’s up to you. I decide on a whim, each time I make them. No real recipe here, but something to get you started. By the way, this method is wonderful for any other root vegetable (carrots, potatoes, yams, beets…you name it).

Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes (about one medium sweet potato per person)

Japanese sweet potatoes
olive oil to coat lightly for better heat conductivity
smoked Spanish paprika (optional, to make things even more interesting)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes and cut out any bad stuff and eyes. Chop into big, even chunks for consistent cooking, and spread single layer in baking dish or on sheet pan. If using a sheet pan, you may want to line it with parchment so they don’t stick.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, tossing altogether for even distribution of oil and salt. Bake for 30 minutes.

Using a spatula or big spoon, scrape them up and move them around so more sides get direct heat. If it needs another little drizzle of oil so they don’t dry out, go ahead. Cook them another 15 minutes until tender on the inside, a little crispy on the outside, and delicious all the way through.

Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika and serve. (they are so tasty like this, when I made them last night, I hardly noticed there wasn’t any salt on mine)

Japanese sweet potatoes2jpg

Marc and I refer to these not-so-great-photos as “illustrative”, so that you get to see how they turned out, but the photo isn’t going to win any prizes or anything.

10 thoughts on “Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes”

  1. Bri – roasting vegetables is my favorite way of preparing them, too! I love roasting regular sweet potatoes, but I’ve never seen the Japanese kind; I’m interested to try them and will keep an eye out. Yum!

  2. I’ve never cooked these, but my dad has, many times. First he cooks them in a lot of oil – not to become crispy, but to cook. Then he drains the potatoes and melts sugar in the pan, throws in the potatoes, and the caramelized sugar coats the potatoes. They’re served like that, piping hot so that when you pull a potato away from the bunch, long threads of golden caramelized sugar follow you.

    Incredibly unhealthy, but so delicious and such a lovely treat. They are also very very pretty, especially with the light hitting them.

  3. You make me want to hunt down some of these sweet potatoes this weekend! My best source will be Fresh Market…roasted is definitely the way to go!

    btw…the updates make your blog shine! Especially like the slide show. Colors & letterng/type set (whatever?) are so easy on the eye–thanks!

  4. Amy – Roasting really does bring out the best in so many veggies, huh? I don’t know how common they are in markets around the country, but the Japanese sweet potatoes really are a treat if you can find them. Thanks for your comment.

    Michelle – Well, I’m definitely a sucker for roasted cauliflower too. But roasted winter squash ranks high for me as well. Yeah, keep an eye out for them. Thanks for stopping by.

    Sherry – Wow. Your dad sounds like a master at that dish. I think when you have sugar strands, it becomes dessert. Yum! I’ll have to try something like that out. It may be fatty and sugary, but at least it’s real food. Thanks for your comment.

    JEP – I hope you can find them. They sure are a treat. Thanks so much for the compliments on the face-lifts around here. I wanted to make it more functional for me, and more user friendly for you guys. So glad you are enjoying it. I like the slide show too. It’s temporary until I can find something that will let me link each photo to it’s post. But this is a good interim solution.

    Manggy – We have actually been on the salt fast for a few days. I wrote the recipe with salt, but didn’t actually put any on the servings I made. Hooray for roasting!!

  5. oh man you have way too many delicious posts up this weeks bri! i am a big fan of the roasting – so easy, one pan cooking – what’s not to like?

    i was just staring at my two quiet little sweet potatoes in my fruit bowl wondering what to do with them and now i know! i love this addition of smoked paprika idea – i have some that i bought at penzey’s and never thought to put it on sweet potatoes – i usually use it when making spice creole dishes… anyway, thanks always for your special twists on everyday items. you make it so easy for us to cook delicious things! 🙂

  6. Gigi – Thanks, friend! Your yams will be silent no longer. I LOVE Penzey’s smoked paprika, and on the sweet potatoes, the sweet and smoky are a winner. I love simple food that start with good ingredients, so I think you can’t go wrong with this combination. Thanks for your sweet comment.

  7. Wish I’d read this before I tried to roast them. I expected the interior would have about the same color as a ruby garnet sweet potato. They are somewhat sweet but the color was pale yellow/white with green blotches. I’ll try again, roasting them in chunks.

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