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Japanese Frites
© Quentin Bacon

Japanese Frites

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French fries have gone way beyond the prosaic russet potato. At Fork in Philadelphia, for instance, Ellen Yin features yuca and taro fries on her menu. Then there are the irresistible fries created by Gene Kato for the Japonais restaurants originating in Chicago. Made with sweet potatoes, the frites are seasoned with a blend of Japanese flavorings, including nori flakes and the tingly spice mix shichimi togarashi.

  1. Vegetable oil, for frying
  2. 1 tablespoon nori flakes (see Note)
  3. 2 teaspoons shichimi togarashi (see Note)
  4. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  5. Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  6. 1 cup mayonnaise
  7. 1 to 2 tablespoons sambal oelek or other Asian red chile sauce
  8. 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  9. 4 white or orange sweet potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick sticks (3 pounds)
  1. In a large pot, heat 3 inches of vegetable oil to 350°. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the nori flakes with the shichimi togarashi, salt and pepper. In another small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the sambal oelek and lime juice.
  2. Working in batches, fry the sweet potato sticks until they are tender and golden, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sweet potato fries to paper towel-lined plates to drain. Generously sprinkle the hot fries with the nori-togarashi mixture and serve immediately with the spicy mayonnaise on the side.
Notes You can buy nori flakes (called aonori) at Asian markets, or you can make your own: Toast a sheet of nori in a dry skillet for 1 minute, then finely grind it in a spice grinder. Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese seasoning blend that includes chiles, sesame seeds and orange peel.