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Fried sweet potatoes are a broad category of related foods made by frying sweet potato pieces, slices, or chunks in hot oil or animal fat. The finished product can be served hot or cold, and can be savory or sweet. Sweet potatoes are fried routinely by cooks in many different cultures according to a range of different regional recipes.
Some of the first fried sweet potatoes are believed to have been prepared by cooks in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the vegetable indigenous. One of the simplest preparations from this region involves little more than frying rough chunks of sweet potato in oil, then seasoning the finished product with local spices. Frying softens the potato pieces, while lending a crispy and lightly browned exterior. Potatoes made in this style are often drizzled in syrup and served as a snack, or paired with beans or meat to form the base of different potato meals.
Sweet potato fritters, which are essentially sweet potato flesh mashed and formed into a dumpling, are also popular in Caribbean cuisine. This sort of sweet potato dish usually begins with a boiled and mashed potato. Butter, spices, nuts, and sometimes fruits are added in, with the mashed potato acting as a sort of dough. Cooks form this “dough” into balls, then fry them up in oil or another fat until they are crispy and coherent.
As sweet potatoes spread across the globe, so did ways of preparing them. Cooks in nearly all regions have come up with ways of frying different potato varieties. In North America and Europe, fried sweet potatoes are often prepared just as other types of potatoes would be. Substituting sweet potatoes is often a healthy alternative, as sweet potatoes are well regarded for their high vitamin and mineral content.
Frying is not usually a healthy way of cooking potatoes, even ones as generally nutritious as sweet potatoes. The potatoes’ vitamins and minerals are rarely lost in frying, but the additions of oils and animal fats usually outweighs their effects. Nevertheless, fried sweet potatoes prepared as French fries or potato chips or crisps are often labeled as a “healthy alternative” to similar products made with standard potatoes.
Sweet potato fries are usually made by slicing the vegetable into thin strips that are then deep-fried, usually in animal fat. Chips and crisps are prepared almost identically, except that they are made from thin disk-shaped slices. Both are commonly served as a side dish or snack.
In Asian cuisine, sweet potatoes are often stir-fried or pan-fried, usually to be added to a range of different potato dishes. Stir-fried sweet potatoes are usually prepared in a wok or other deep dish, where small pieces or shreds of potato can be cooked quickly over high heat until they become crispy. They are then added as a colorful topping to a variety of noodle and meat dishes. Pan-fried sweet potatoes are usually made in a skillet, then added to curries and soups once their exterior has crisped.
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