Togarashi is a spice blend often seen in Japanese cooking, dating back many centuries. Borrowing some traditional seasonings there and adding in the element of wasabi, these spicy orange wasabi fries are a perfect mix of East meets West, giving you a fry worthy of standing next to a sushi night or bowl of ramen, but just as easily finding a place on a plate next to a burger.
There was a green bush in the garden last year that sparked several conversations between Ole and I. What was it? How did it get there? As I was a disorganized gardener last year with way too much crowding in the new beds and working on starting both a strawberry and a raspberry patch in other beds, I was at a loss. What had I planted in the far corner of the strawberry bed?
I vaguely remembered being at the farmers market, picking up plants that were on my list of things to put in the ground when this compulsiveness had led me to grab a few more than I had originally intended. It’s how I ended up with a spaghetti squash and a pumpkin that were taking over a good portion of my backyard together.
While compulsiveness did lead to a gorgeous carving pumpkin for my daughter and plenty of pumpkin puree and pepitas for pesto, this particular plant was a bit different. For one, it was huge, taking up a good two-foot square in the corner, leaning precariously over the edge of our rock-sided bed and looking rather invasive next to my small strawberry plants. And I couldn’t remember what it was.
Not appearing to produce any edible fruit or vegetable, I was confounded. What had I purchased in my farmers market folly? Only later, after I pulled up the large mass of green would I discover the mass of potatoes in the ground. Perfect and tiny and ready to boil. Today, however, there’s a bit of a broil after the boil.
I shared my process of testing the perfect method of baking french fries last week for the Alexia Foods Reinvent a Classic Challenge, and then I boarded a plane for Pennsylvania, where I was then driven out into a gorgeous setting for Big Summer Potluck only to realize there would be no chance for me to upload the recipe for my post once I arrived. I appreciate your patience, especially my neighbor, Mike, who only heard of said french fries while his wife had the privilege of tasting them, and has been bothering me for the last five days to share already.
Start by cutting potatoes into matchsticks. I left the skin on because I was told growing up that all the nutrients are in the skin.
Cover the fries in a mix of rice wine vinegar and water. Boil for just 8 minutes. The goal is to have soft potatoes that are nowhere near that overcooked state where they get grainy and fall apart if you even bring a fork remotely near to the surface.
While the potatoes boil, grind the spices together: dried orange peel, wasabi, red pepper flakes and ground ginger all add to these fries.
The partially cooled potatoes get tossed in a bit of oil and the spices.
They’re laid out evenly and we’re ready to broil until golden, crisp and perfect for snaking on.
The balance of acid and spice here made these great for snacking, and between my neighbors and my eldest daughter who was home at the time, they disappeared quickly, leaving none for the men. Poor guys.
A huge thank-you goes out to Alexia Foods for letting me be a part of this campaign! There really is nothing like getting paid to do what you love.
12 ounces rice wine vinegar
1″ knob fresh ginger
2 cups water
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon dried orange zest
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Place julienned potatoes in a small saucepan. Cover with rice wine vinegar. Peel ginger and chop into large chunks. Add to saucepan. Pour in water to cover potatoes. Bring the saucepan contents to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Allow to cool in the liquid for 10 minutes. Drain. Place the potatoes in a bowl and toss with grapeseed oil.
Using a mortar and pestle, grind together wasabi powder, sesame seeds, orange zest, red pepper flakes and ginger until no large chunks remain. Mix in salt. Sprinkle wasabi mixture over the oiled potatoes and toss gently to coat.
Spread the potatoes onto a parchment-lined baking tray and broil approximately 6 inches from broiler. Broil on high for 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Flip and broil the second side 3-5 minutes until brown and crisp. Remove from broiler and let rest slightly before serving.
Serve with an orange-zested aioli for dipping.
Makes 4 servings.