Can you spot the non-conformist in the picture below? (FYI living in Japan with teenage boys and all those cute little Japanese girls gave mom so much gray hair)
When living in Japan, I used to marvel on how organized and methodical all things are. Trains are punctual to the second. Getting on and off public transport is like a ballet, everyone gracefully stands to the side and lets the exiting passengers off first and then everyone enters quietly, organized and respectively. There is purpose and meaning to all movements. It is calming and comforting.
People dress the same and uniformity and conformity are the norm. It is just precious to see all the little younger children with their matching hats, book bags and even umbrellas. Even as adults it is a comforting thing to be part of a group with certain attire guidelines.
Hey I did not get the memo about wearing the fishing vest and backpack?
Attention to detail is paramount. Have you ever noticed in Japanese cooking, the little vegetables cut into flowers, the placement of little dishes set in front of you, or maybe admired the time mothers spend on creating the perfect cute little bento box for their children? Well maybe not everyone notices these little things, but I sure do.
Our eyes are the gateway to our stomachs. It must first look pleasing to the eye and then your lips and taste buds will follow. When deciding upon making my menu, today was not an exception. Japanese Sweet potatoes are lovely and you can make so many things with them from savory to desserts. However, today I chose to make something a little healthier with my Jenga Baked Sweet Potato Fries. (Traditionally this dish is made deep-fried with a sweet gooey topping, but trying to get ready for bikini season)
Jenga Baked Japanese Sweet Potato fries ended up being a hit with the boys. They were crispy and crunchy on the outside and tender, sweet and delicious on the inside. I enjoyed plunging them into my favorite Black Sesame seed dipping sauce, It is just the kind of healthy snack you have been looking for. We also shared great game of Jenga along the way. Have you ever played a hot game of Jenga? Jenga is traditionally played with the wooden blocks and each player takes off a block from in between and then puts it back on top. However, in our case we just ate them instead. A very edible yummy game and fun after school snack.
Jenga Japanese Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 4 adults or 2 hungry teenagers
- 1 pound or about 5 Japanese sweet potatoes
- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
- optional (1-2 teaspoons of sesame seeds)
Recipe for Black Sesame Seed Sauce and Ginger Honey sauce follows…
Step 1: Preheat oven to 450 degrees or 230 degrees Celsius
Step 2: Wash and cut up sweet potatoes in lengthwise strips. You can remove the peel or leave it on as I have done ((FYI: immediately submerge fries into a dish of cold water with a little salt, to prevent the oxidation process)
Step 3: Dry off Japanese sweet potatoes thoroughly. In a separate bowl add sweet potatoes, olive oil, cinnamon, salt, sugar and sesame seeds if desired. Mix well and place on baking sheet.
Step 4: Place Japanese Sweet potatoes on baking sheet and place in oven to bake for about 20-25 or until tender and golden brown.
Step 5: Stack up your sweet potato fries and get ready for a hot game of Jenga. (If desired, you can serve plain or maybe try some unique dipping sauces.)
Black Sesame Sauce– 3 tablespoons black sesame sauce, 1 tablespoons honey, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce just mix and serve.
Ginger Honey sauce– 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground ginger, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1/2 teaspoon of teriyaki sauce- heat on top of stove until bubbly and serve.