Tag : side-dishes
Tag : side-dishes
What is more lovable than potatoes? Puppies? I think not. Fluffy kittens? Sorry, no. A French vanilla-scented candle washing away all of your soul-crushing self-doubts and broken dreams on a cozy, rainy, winter evening in a kitchen with a glass of cheap red wine and chicken roasting in the oven? Hah. Don’t make me laugh.
Being Irish, I am required by blood to love potatoes, and love them I do. Almost as much as I love cardamom.
Roasted potatoes was the first dish I learned to make…if you don’t count pasta. I mean dried, store-bought pasta that you boil in a pot for five minutes and drench in tomato sauce. I guess, then, boiled water is the first dish I learned to make, and to be honest, there was a time I couldn’t even do that right.
Once, I left the pasta boiling in the pot so long that the water evaporated and the bottom of the pot turned to charcoal. We had to throw the pot away. We have since ruined another 3+ pots (two Le Creuset stainless steel and one Calphalon hard anodized aluminum.)
Once, I tried to make gulab jamun and I put them in the water not only before it was boiling but also before I even added the sugar.
Everything, even something as simple as boiling water, needs a little practice.
After preparing pasta, roasting potatoes was the first thing I figured out how to do. Roasting potatoes is to college students with ovens what cheap drip coffee machines are to first-years living in closets. They’re simple, flavorful, hearty, and soul-soothing.
In Japan, I made oven fries on a weekly basis. For two years, I tried to get them to come out just like French fries, but alas, French fries are another adventure. Oven fries are just as delightful, though.
When I boil water, despite the old standby, I watch it like a hawk watching a soccer game until it boils. If water could blush, I’m sure it would.
When I roast potatoes, I set ’em and forget ’em. That’s the beauty of roasting (and also braising), you can dress the food, put it in the oven, and forget about it without worrying that you might carbonize the bottom of your beautiful steel roasting pan.
garlic rosemary roasted potatoes
serves 5 – 6
6 – 8 medium or large potatoes (white or Yukon gold)
extra virgin olive oil for coating
salt and pepper for seasoning
6 garlic cloves
4 – 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary (sprigs without the leaves work, as well, if you want to be resourceful.)
Preheat the oven to 450 F/ C.
Chop potatoes into just-larger-than-bite-sized pieces.
Toss the potatoes in the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and arrange them in a 9- x 13-inch roasting pan in a single layer.
Leaving the garlic skin on, smash the cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife blade. Arrange the garlic and rosemary on top of the potatoes.
Roast the potatoes for 40 – 50 minutes until bronzed, tender, and fragrant, flipping them over once or twice throughout to prevent sticking and burning.
As they say in the homeland, “Dia Duit” (goodbye),
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!”
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.
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.”
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.
makes 2 servings
4 small potatoes
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.