Sweet Potato Pancakes with Homemade Crème Fraiche and Caviar
By Heidi Allison
The perfect play of salty and sweet, this dish elevates fried sweet potatoes from home-style cooking to elegant side. The sweet potatoes are seasoned with a Cajun spice blend of smoked paprika, thyme, black pepper, turmeric and cayenne, which adds a savory kick that balances the sweet, almost molasses -like flavor of the caramelized tuber. Fried till crispy, the hot pancakes are garnished with freshly-made crème fraiche, salmon caviar and minced green onions or chives—a budget- wise and modern rendition of the decadent Russian national treasure— Blinis and Caviar.
The Sweet Potatoes are initially steamed— only 5 minutes—which leaves the core a bit raw. This par-cooking step facilitates the shredded potatoes to bind and hold their shape when frying, instead of falling apart. It’s also crucial to cool down the sweet potatoes to room temperature, and then allow the sweet potatoes to completely dry off and drain from the steam before frying. Dusting the shredded sweet potatoes with a bit of flour before adding the beaten egg is another crucial step to keeping the pancakes’ shape.
2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Tablespoons AP flour
1 medium Shallot, minced
1 large Egg, beaten
1teaspoon Kosher Flake Salt
¼ teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
½ teaspoon Dried Thyme
¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
¼ teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Minced Chives (or minced tops of green onion; green part only)
1 ounce Salmon Caviar
½ cup Sour Cream
¼ cup Whipping Cream
Place sour cream and whipping cream in a small bowl and whip with a fork until incorporated. Cover and return to the refrigerator.
Preparation for Pancakes:
Place sweet potato chunks into a steamer basket, and place in a medium pot, and steam for 5 minutes on medium heat, then uncover and allow to cool. The sweet potato chunks should not be soft to the core, but have a bit of resistance when pierced with a fork or knife in the middle.
Remove to a medium bowl and place in the tube of a food processor, fitted with a large-hole grater blade (usually used for grating cheese). Gently pulse sweet potatoes, in batches, until all is grated—should be about 4 cups.
Remove grated sweet potatoes to a large bowl, and dust with flour, spices, and minced shallots; then gently toss with your fingers to combine. Add beaten egg, and toss with a fork till combined.
Heat a medium skillet on medium heat till hot, and then add 1 heaping tablespoon of sweet potato batter to the pan. Immediately flatten down with back of spoon to about ¼ inch thick. Fry till edges are browned and crisp—about 3 minutes. Do not let burn. Turn over and repeat. Drain on brown paper grocery bag and repeat process until all are cooked—should be about 6 pancakes.
Place pancakes on a serving plate and top with a tablespoon of cool crème fraiche and ½ teaspoon of caviar and a sprinkling of minced green onions or chives.