Restauraunt Food at Home: Sweet Potato Fries with Curry-Peanut Dip

Inviting some pals over to hang out can quickly turn stressful when you realize they’re going to expect some food. Before you reach for your phone to order delivery, take a few deep breaths. Homemade eats don’t have to be difficult. With original recipes from our Everyday Appetizers series, you can pull off showstopping starters without losing your cool. 

Restaurants impressed patrons everywhere when they started slinging a new version of an old favorite: sweet potato fries. They have all the crispy, salty goodness of the original, but with a flavor that’s a bit more exciting. Most of these eateries still serve the sweet spuds with the same ketchup you get with regular fries though. This week’s recipe makes basic sweet potato fries even better by adding an exotic peanut dip.

About this recipe

plate of sweet potato fries with a side of curry-peanut dip

Christine Skopec/Culture Cheat Sheet

Some of the best bar snacks come from combining old favorites with new flavors, so we used the same idea with these fries. Because they work well in so many different types of cuisine, sweet potatoes provide plenty of opportunity for inspiration. We settled on taking a little bit of Thai influence because boldly flavored ingredients, like curry paste and peanut butter, mean you can keep your shopping basket pretty light and also satisfy nearly any palate.

The first step for these fries is cutting the sweet potatoes. While your batons don’t need to be perfect, you really do want them to all be roughly the same size. As long as you take your time, you shouldn’t have any trouble. Then, give the cut sweet potatoes a bath in a big bowl of water. This helps to remove some of the excess starch, giving you a crisper fry.

Drain the spuds, then spread them onto plenty of paper towels to absorb all the excess moisture. You never want to introduce additional water to hot fryer oil because it can cause a minor explosion, resulting in injury. As long as you let the sweet potatoes get really dry, you won’t have any issues.

While the sweet potatoes are getting ready for the fryer, whip up the dip. Just add peanut butter, coconut milk, cilantro, a pinch of salt, and Thai red curry paste to your food processor, then let it rip. Tasting your food is always important as you go, but especially when you’re using premade sauces or seasonings. Curry paste varies quite a bit in both salt and spice levels, so you’ll need to adjust for your specific brand. Heat seekers will want to add the optional cayenne pepper.

Now all that’s left is the frying. Since the crispy factor is the real reason to fry instead of bake, we went with a double-cook method. It’s a foolproof technique for the best texture. The initial fry cooks the spuds all the way through while the second, hotter fry guarantees a crunchy exterior. The other key to keeping them crisp is serving right away, so dig in as soon as the sweet potatoes are done.

Good news IPA lovers, this dish is perfect for the bitter brew, as long as you like spice because hops intensify the burn. The herbal and citrus notes in the beer will also go wonderfully with the peanut dip. If you like things slightly tamer, Matching Food & Wine suggested opting for a witbier.

A lot of folks worry about pairing wine with spicy Thai food, but some bottles stand up to the heat perfectly well. The Kitchn suggested going for a Riesling, particularly one that has a bit of sweetness to it. The residual sugar will be a nice match-up to the peanut dip. Though red wine isn’t a common choice, Serious Eats said a slightly sweet Cabernet stands up to the bold flavors.

Making cocktails might be the most fun drink option for this appetizer because it pretty much begs for something tropical. Try this simple mango cocktail or go for a seriously festive coconut concoction.

Sweet Potato Fries with Curry-Peanut Dip

close image of fried sweet potato fries with a side of curry-peanut dip

Christine Skopec/Culture Cheat Sheet

If you really don’t feel like frying, you can make these fries in the oven using the same method as with our rosemary fries. Just know they won’t be quite as crispy. This recipe makes enough for 4.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 quarts peanut, corn, or other light frying oil
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Directions: In a deep, heavy pot, preheat oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut potatoes into ¼-inch batons and place in a large bowl filled with water. Swish potatoes around in water. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel, removing as much moisture as possible. Lay potatoes out over paper towels or kitchen towel to dry off.

Meanwhile, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, curry paste, and cayenne, if using, in a food processor. Blend to combine, season with salt, add cilantro, and blend just to combine. Set peanut dip aside until ready to use.

Working in batches, fry sweet potatoes until soft and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and repeat with remaining sweet potatoes.

Increase oil temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Working in batches, fry sweet potatoes a second time until brown and crisped, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to another paper towel-lined baking sheet and immediately season with salt. Repeat with remaining fries and serve with peanut dip.

See you back here next week.

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