Sweet Potato Cilantro Pancakes

I love sweet potato fries, but I’m not so great at making them. Sure I could pull out the fryer, but that always seems like more trouble due to the clean up than it’s worth. And as for oven roasting them, well, I just haven’t found a method that works for me.

My oven sweet potato fries, unlike my oven potato fries, always turn out soggy and limp. Make that usually turn out soggy and limp. Fed up with sub par sweet potato fries, I did a quick internet search to figure out how I can adjust my method. I settled on a recipe from a favorite food blog as it included a couple of reader notes to boost up the given recipe’s crispness even more: I cranked up the oven to 500 degrees F instead of 450 and preheated a greased baking sheet in the oven before adding the sweet potato cuts.

Fail. Fail. Fail. These weren’t soggy; they were burnt and charred to a crisp. John tried to be game about salvaging them suggesting I try one. I almost barfed as the burnt taste was overwhelming. Even worse for me, that overcooked sweet potato smell lingered in the house for a couple of days, reminding me of the days when we lived near a brewery and that smell was pervasive in the air all the time.

So when I wanted to use sweet potato as a side I thought about whether there was a different way I could have crispy sweet potatoes but not go down the inevitable failure route that for me is the sweet potato fry. And then it occurred to me– sweet potato pancakes! I could shred a yam, squeeze out the extra moisture, and make little cakes to fry up in a pan.

Since this was a side for an Asian style entrée (will post that next week), I decided to spice these pancakes in a similar fashion. I added a touch of curry and five spice powder along with some chopped fresh cilantro. I then made a dipping sauce out of soy sauce, minced serrano pepper, garlic, and plenty more cilantro. These little cakes were crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and a great balance of sweet and spicy.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

  • 1 large yam (that’s the orange flesh tuber), peeled
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 serrano pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

Shred the yam, either in a food processor or with a grater. Sprinkle the shredded yam with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix together in a colander. Let this stand for 15 minutes then squeeze out extra moisture either in a clean kitchen towel or in paper towels. Add the dry yam to a large mixing bowl and mix in the egg, garlic, curry powder, five spice powder, cilantro, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Sprinkle in the flour then mix together. Pick up about 1/4 cup of the mixture and form into a patty. If the patty holds its shape, you’re good. If it’s too loose to stick together, add a little more flour until the mix binds together well.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat while you shape the pancakes. When the oil ripples, it’s hot enough to cook the pancakes. Cook pancakes, four at a time, for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown, adjusting the heat as necessary to avoid burning. Remove cooked pancakes to paper towel lined plates to drain excess oil, sprinkling with more salt and pepper to taste.

While pancakes are frying, mix together the dipping sauce ingredients. Serve in a small bowl with the pancakes so that diners can add as much or as little sauce as they want.

Yields 6-8, 4 inch wide pancakes.

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3 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Cilantro Pancakes

  1. Candace says:

    omygoodness! These look amazing! I have a mild Asian food addiction and these are perfect for that. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I look forward to your future post on what you served these with.

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