My Sweet Potato Awakening
Growing up in the south, I had sweet potatoes in many forms. Candied and saucy, in pies (sweet potato>pumpkin, of course!), baked with butter and cinnamon, mashed or whipped into a casserole, I happily ate them all but didn’t given them much thought unless they were placed in front of me. However, back in the mid 00’s when I was living in SF, I had a sweet potato revelation of sorts.
Somehow I’d never had them cut into small cubes and roasted until edges were burnished and the centers were tender and candy-like when I lived down south. It became a new favorite food. No more putting Baby in the corner! I’d roast a pan with cumin and smoked paprika or maybe zaatar and eat them alone or mixed in to other dishes if there were any left.
Something New For Thanksgiving
This ginger and miso roasted sweet potato recipe is a winning combo if I do say so myself. It would be great as a Thanksgiving side or part of a salad or bowl for lunch. Heck, I ate leftovers today for breakfast. I was looking for a way to explore different flavor pairings and yet create something that’s still somewhat familiar and comforting. The result is a dish that has a little something for everyone – it’s easily made vegan, can be prepared ahead, and definitely falls in the main meal vs. “this feels like dessert” category like many Thanksgiving sweet potato dishes tend to (do you, marshmallow-ed sweet potato lovers!).
Plays Well With Friends
I’ve been interested in incorporating more miso in my cooking and here it plays a co-starring role with the ginger. The slightly sweet white miso is the only source of salt in the sauce. It brings with it some umami richness which creates an almost toffee flavor along with the brown sugar, butter and natural sweetness of the potato. I love fresh ginger here for the bite and kick it. Apple cider vinegar balances the sweetness with a bit of acid that keeps you wanting more.
The People Have Spoken
Originally, I envisioned making a saucy candied sweet potato by simmering the potatoes in a miso ginger sauce. I figured a stove top recipe might be easier for thanksgiving when oven space is at a premium. After my first recipe trial, I started to wondered if people outside of the south who didn’t grow up eating them actually enjoyed candied sweet potatoes. Of course, the fastest way to answer this question was to take it to Instagram. Well RIP candied sweet potatoes. My stories poll showed that most people preferred mashed or roasted sweet potatoes. Noted!
I chose roasted over mashed because they’re my favorite. In this version, the sweet potatoes are chopped and roasted with olive oil and salt. While that’s happening, you make the miso ginger glaze that gets tossed with the roasted sweet potatoes. What you end up with is the best of both worlds – the slightly crisp and concentrated flavor of the roasted potato combined with the every so slightly saucy brightly flavored glaze. Ok, I’ll admit it’s a lightly candied sweet potato. Just don’t call it that.
Schlep It Across Town or Make it Ahead
I brought this dish to a Friendsgiving and it was a hit even after reheating the whole dish in the microwave! You can roast the sweet potatoes and make the sauce ahead, storing them separately. When you’re ready to serve the dish, you can heat them separately and combine them in the serving dish or mix everything together and reheat them. It’s flexible that way!
Now About That Miso
It’s important that you use white (shiro) miso paste in this recipe. The red miso (the other common type you may encounter) is less sweet and aged which gives it a much stronger flavor. I purchased mine at 99 Ranch, the Asian grocery chain. You can also find miso in refrigerator section often near the tofu at Asian grocery stores, like H-Mart, Whole Foods or possible your local international market in the US. I checked and it’s on Amazon, though in massive portions.
Miso is a Japanese fermented soybean paste that’s traditionally used as a seasoning or ingredient in soups, sauces, marinades and in pickling vegetables or meats. There are many varieties of miso. They can vary in the ingredients, method of preparation and aging of the paste. Shiromiso or white miso, is very common in Japan and incorporates barley, rice with a smaller proportion of soybeans, giving it the white color.
Other Uses For Miso
If you’re new to working with miso, my quick sell is that it lasts forever in the fridge and you can definitely find other ways to use it beyond miso soup. It’s great as part of a marinade for meat or fish and in sweet dishes as well. Miso is particularly tasty with eggplant and I can see myself using it to dress roasted vegetables this winter. This easy ramen dish is on also on my list. If you’re looking for recipe suggestions please hit me up at @letsgosho or leave a comment below!
Miso & Ginger Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Cubes of sweet potatoes are roasted till carmelized, tender and sweet then tossed with a bright and rich miso ginger glaze. A great dish for Thanksgiving or any time of the year.
This can be doubled up if you have a big crowd. Just add a 2nd pan for roasting the potatoes and rotate their positions in the oven halfway through baking.
**See the notes on making them ahead at the bottom of the recipe**
You’ll likely have extra sauce which would be great on salmon, toast or even vanilla ice cream!
- 2.5 lbs of sweet potatoes (about 4 medium sized)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp white/shiro miso paste (*see more on miso below)
- 1.5 oz fresh ginger root ( you’ll need 2 Tbsp grated ginger)
- 1/2 cup(minus a Tbsp) light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp of fine salt
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (or coconut oil)
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup of water
- handful candied ginger (optional for garnish)
- 1 half sheet pan (18 x 13 inches, 43 x 36 cm)
- cutting board
- small sauce pan
- chef’s knife (or similar)
- microplane/zest (to grate ginger)
- mixing spoon
- vegetable peeler
- large mixing bowl (to mix sweet potatoes and glaze)
- Place the oven rack on the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Rinse the sweet potatoes and peel them.
- Cut the sweet potatoes into approx. 3/4 inch cubes by cutting 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick slices along the length of each potato. Stack two similar sized slices and cut them into cubes.
- Place the diced sweet potatoes on the sheet pan, drizzle on the 1 Tbsp of EVOO and sprinkle on the 1/2 tsp of salt. Use your hands to mix everything together and spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer over the pan.
- Roast them in the oven for 15 minute then flip them with the spatula. Roast for an additional 10-20 minutes. It will depend on your oven. They are done when some of the sides are browned and the larger cubes can easily be cut with a fork.
- While the sweet potatoes are roasting, peel the ginger using the teaspoon. Grate it into the saucepan. You want 2 tablespoons of grated ginger. Grating it directly into the saucepans saves a bowl and catches all the ginger juice!
- Combine the 1/4 cup of water, scant 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 2 Tbsp miso, 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar in the saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat stirring occasionally. You can mash the miso clumps against the saucepan with your spoon to help break them up.
- Once it’s reached a simmer, lower the heat slightly and let the mixture cook for 5 minutes stirring periodically. You want to reduce the volume and create a syrup. It’s done when you see small slow forming bubbles on the surface and the sauce coats the back of a metal teaspoon.
- Taste it and check the flavors as each miso paste will be slightly different. It should be a balance of sweet and salty and bit tangy. If it’s salty, add a splash more of apple cider vinegar. If you can’t taste the miso as much as you’d like, as some more.
- If you plan to serve the dish right away, add the sweet potatoes to the mixing or serving bowl and pour over some of the ginger miso syrup. Gently mix them together with the mixing spoon and add enough syrup to just coat the potatoes. However, if you like more of a candied potato effect, add more sauce!
- You can finely slice the candied ginger and sprinkle it on top if you like. Enjoy!