Roasted sweet potatoes are one of those recipes that seems totally straightforward, but learning a few simple tweaks can take the humble dish from great to amazing.
“There are few things in life better than whole roasted sweet potatoes,” Lucas Sin, the lead chef of Junzi, a chain of Chinese restaurants in New York, says in a story highlighted on his Instagram page. “If you’re going to do them, do them properly.”
He suggests a surprising trick: Freezing the sweet potatoes before you roast them. “One of the core tenets of Chinese cooking is that water is flavorless,” Sin explained to Eater. “So a lot of Chinese technique is to force the water out of something so that what’s left behind is the more concentrated essence of that ingredient.”
For sweet potatoes, the chilly temps cause the water content inside to form crystals which break down the fleshy part inside. It then evaporates as the potato cooks, leaving behind a perfectly fluffy texture. Sin compares the consistency to sweet potato pie, but without any extra ingredients needed.
In fact, fans of this technique are calling it a “one ingredient” recipe because Sin doesn’t even recommend adding any fat or seasoning to the outside of the sweet potato before roasting it. You just have to wash the potatoes first, then let them hang out in the freezer for about an hour or two. Once they’re fully frozen, you can put them on a parchment lined baking pan (no need to poke holes!) and pop in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes to an hour.
Sin says you’ll know they’re done when you see dark spots start or form outside the spud — not because they are burnt, but because of sugars “oozing” out and caramelizing. When they’ve cooled down a bit, you should also be able to press the skin and feel that it’s separated from the flesh inside.
Here’s how his turned out:
Sin says it works on all types of sweet potatoes, not just purple ones like his. He also claims they’re delicious all on their own without any toppings, but you can, of course, dress them up however you’d like with sweet or savory sauces and fixings.
The next time you’re in the mood for sweet potatoes, be sure to let them chill out in the freezer first to see the same flavorful and oh-so fluffy results for yourself!