Taro Chips and Sweet Potato Chips

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Recipe: Taro Chips (inspired by University of Hawaii's recipe)
Rating: Stupid easy, and tasty
Status: Made once.

Taro chips uses the same technique as making potato chips and sweet potato chips, but there are a few details that should be pointed out.

Taro skin contains an irritant that makes some people itchy, so try not to touch it. Use a plastic bag (or plastic gloves if you have some) when handling it. Use a knife to peel off the skin (it should be easy to do, since taro isn't as hard as squashes). Discard the skin. Taro must be eaten fully cooked; it is toxic when raw.

Taro chips can be fried at anywhere between 260 F to 320 F. Some of the edges will brown at 320 F, which I like since it then the chips are three colors (brown edges, white interior with purple dots). 260 F will produce very light colored chips.

Ingredients:
  • 1 Chinese taro (also called "Bun Long"). This variety is best for taro chips; other types of taro don't work as well. Choose a mature taro (not "baby taro") which is a few inches wide (example, second example). This type of taro has purple fibers when cut crosswise. The amount of taro you need varies on how many chips you want to produce.
  • high-heat oil, such as peanut oil
  • kosher salt
Equipment:
  • Deep heavy bottomed pot for deep frying
Use a knife to cut off the skin from the taro. Discard the skin.

Use a mandoline to slice the taro into large paper thin slices. The raw slices have a tendency to stick together; don't worry about this too much.

Pour at least 3 inches of high-heat oil into a large deep-sided heavy bottomed pot. The pot should not be more than a third to half full. Heat oil to 320 F (or the temperature of your choosing). Line a wire rack with paper towels.

Fry taro slices for 2 minutes: Place a small batch of taro slices in the oil (it is okay if the slices are stuck together). As soon as you put the slices in, bubbles will form and steam will rise; this is the moisture inside of the chips evaporating. Use chopsticks to gently push the slices around to help separate them; they will become easier to separate as they start to become cooked. The taro slices will start out floppy but as they cook they will stiffen. The taro chips need to be separated before they become fully stiff, otherwise they will meld together. Fry the chips for about 2 minutes, turning occasionally. The taro chips won't brown like regular potato chips. You'll be able to tell that they are cooked through when they are stiff, there are no longer bubbles around them, and they've been in the oil about 2 minutes. The edges might slightly brown if you are cooking them at 320 F.

Immediately remove the chips from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon. Drain well and place on a wire rack to cook. Salt while still hot so that the salt sticks to them.

Recipe: "Fingerling or Sweet Potato Chips" from "Ad Hock at Home" by Thomas Keller
Rating: Stupid easy, and tasty
Status: Made once.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lbs large sweet potato (peeled) or 1 lbs large fingerling potatoes (scrubbed)
  • high-heat oil, such as peanut oil
  • kosher salt
Equipment:
  • Deep heavy bottomed pot for deep frying
Use a mandoline to slice the sweet potatoes or potatoes (Slicing on a slight diagonal gives a better angle for cutting the chips. Slice fingerling potatoes lengthwise for visually unusual, bigger chips). The slices should be paper thin (i.e. as thin as possible but not so thin that the edges become uneven).

Pour at least 3 inches of high-heat oil into a large heavy bottomed pot. The pot should not be more than a third to half full. Heat oil to 325 F for sweet potatoes or 350 F for potatoes. Line a wire rack with paper towels.

Add a small handful of slices into the oil at a time. Use a spider or slotted spoon to separate the slices and turn occasionally. Fry slices for about 2-1/2 minutes or until golden brown;

Remove the chips from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon. Drain well and place on a wire rack to cook. Salt while still hot so that the salt sticks to them.

Variation: You can also flavor the chips. Many flavors are possible, for example a single drop of Tabasco on each sweet potato chip makes the chips have a nice spicy and vinegary flavor.

Salmon, Salmon Eggs, and Scallop Chirashi

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Chirashi means "scattered sushi". It is usually presented as sushi rice and other ingredients mixed together or as sushi rice topped with a decorative arrangement of ingredients. Displayed here is sliced raw sashimi-quality salmon, raw sashimi-quality scallops, salted salmon eggs, and shiso (full leaves and julienned).

To make this bowl, rinse sashimi-quality fish and scallops briefly in cold water to help remove any bacteria sticking to the outside of the fish and pat dry. Slice the fish into thin slices, and cut scallops in half to make them thinner and more delicate. Place some sushi rice (recipe for sushi rice is available here) in a small serving bowl. Top with a decorative arrangement of fish. Serve with soy sauce in a small container to dip the fish in and a dab of wasabi. Optionally also serve with half-sheets of toasted nori.

Read here for food safety information about how to buy sushi fish. One easy way to know that the fish you buy is safe to eat raw is to buy it from Japanese markets, which usually have a special refrigerated section for fish that is meant to be eaten raw. Super Mira Market in San Francisco is my favorite place to buy sushi quality fish.

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