the potato things

As a semi-Irishman, I’m all but required to love potatoes.

I once ordered a basket of french fries and potato mochi at a Japanese pub (izakaya, 居酒屋), and my Japanese friend said “you’re so American! You eat so many potatoes!”


Oh dear.

I once had french fries for breakfast, but maybe that’s the American in me more than the Irish.

I swear I’ve eaten more potatoes here in the last month than I ever ate in a year back home. Maybe because I have to cook more and they’re really easy to cook. In the course of my Japanese kitchen foibles, I’ve discovered two no-fail potato recipes that I can do at a moment’s notice: sake soy sauce potatoes, and oven fries.

sake shoyu dressing for potatoes

The former came from one of the Japanese cookbooks I tried to read, and only needs four ingredients: cooking oil, potatoes, Japanese rice wine (NOT “sake,”* but “nihonshu” 日本酒), and soy sauce. The latter has been the Loch Ness Monster of my kitchen endeavors for years now. It wasn’t until this calendar year that I finally got it right. The secret? Dry the potatoes, and season them liberally. Also, use oil conservatively (only enough to make the seasoning stick to the potatoes.) Then bake the hell out of them.

*In the US, we say “sake” to mean Japanese rice wine. In Japan, if you say “sake,” you are literally just saying “alcohol.” If you want Japanese rice wine, it’s “nihonshu,” which ironically means “Japanese booze.” 

finished sake shoyu potatoes

sake soy sauce potatoes

makes 2 servings

This is a good side dish, or a starch to complement your main dish, and it’s crazy easy to make. I’ve found that white potatoes are easier to prepare than the various types of sweet potatoes. That being said, it would be interesting to try the same recipe with sweet potatoes.


4 small potatoes

2 Tbsp cooking oil

2-4 Tbsp rice wine

2-4 Tbsp soy sauce


Heat cooking oil in a large pan on the stove, high heat.

Slice and chop potatoes into half-moons (half-circles.) When the oil is hot, layer the slices in the pan, in only one layer. Let fry for 3-5 minutes, until starting to brown on the bottom.

Flip the slices and brown on the other side.

Mix together rice wine and soy sauce in a small bowl. When both sides of the potatoes are browned, dump the mixture into the pan and cover with a lid. Turn down the heat a bit and let the sauce evaporate.

Adjust to your liking. If the potato is black on one side, it will be amazing, I promise.

baked oven fries 2

oven fries

makes 2 servings


4 small potatoes

olive oil


seasoning of your choice


If using a conventional oven, preheat to 180 C/350 F.

Cut the potatoes as you wish, into wedges or sticks, etc. Dry between two paper towels.

Put the potatoes into a medium-sized bowl. Toss in some olive oil, just enough to coat the potatoes, but not too much.

Toss in salt, liberally, and your chosen seasoning. With your hand, mix the potatoes until coated in oil and seasoning, adding more of each as needed.

Toast fries at 1000 W (180 C/350 F) for 40 – 50 minutes, until considerably brown.

Let cool and enjoy.


Good luck,

Nick P.


Categories: potatoes, savory, side dishes

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