Intro: Purple Sweet Potato Balls
Purple sweet potatoes (aka Okinawan sweet potatoes) are amazingly good all by themselves, but are even better when combined with coconut cream. This super quick and easy recipe turns purple sweet potatoes into a delicious show-stopper appetizer.
Try it out - its the perfect finger-food treat for kids and adults of all ages.
Step 1: Find and Roast Sweet Potatoes
Purple sweet potatoes are often available in Japanese markets, or stores catering to an Asian or Pacific Island clientele. If you can't find any, ask your grocery store to special-order a box, and split with friends and family - you'll plow through these tasty little purple treats at a rapid clip. Also available online. Mine were $1.89/lb at Farmer Joe's in Oakland, CA.
Note that these potatoes are grey/white on the outside, and purple on the inside. Other varieties of purple sweet potato have a reddish-browninsh-purple exterior, but tend to be a bit dry for making sweet potato balls.
Wash the exterior of your sweet potatoes, place them on a foil-covered baking sheet, and stick in a 350F oven for 1-2 hours (depending on potato size) until thoroughly roasted. You'll be able to squish them with your hands just like an orange sweet potato when they're cooked through.
Step 2: Add Coconut Cream
Scoop out your sweet potatoes, and stir in coconut cream - you should use about a 3:1 ratio of sweet potato to coconut cream. Add a pinch of salt (start with ~1/8 teaspoon per 2 cups of potatoes.) Mash and stir together, adjusting quantities until the mixture is about the consistency of a sticky playdough. Adjust salt to taste.
Don't have coconut cream on hand? Stick a can of coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours, then scoop off the solidified cream. Save the liquid for another use; I like to add it to curries or soups.
Step 3: Roll Into Balls & Serve
Take a scoop of potato, and roll it around in your hands until you've created a nice cohesive sphere. If the potato mix is too crumbly, add more coconut cream (or butter, if you've run out); if it's too sticky, mix in more sweet potato, or flatten the potato mix and let it sit and dry out for an hour or two.
Place your finished sweet potato balls on a serving platter, and garnish with a flake of toasted coconut to be super-fancy. I tend to serve these at room temperature for convenience, but they're also good cold, hot, or with a Thai-style curry sauce.
The finished sweet potato balls save beautifully - just place in an air-tight container and refrigerate.