What? You’ve never heard of Sweet Potato Mofongo? Yeah, me either until this week. It just goes to illustrate what strange and tenuous associations are involved in coming up with a recipe some times. If you’re Puerto Rican I apologize in advance for this odd imposition on your culinary heritage.
It all started innocently enough, I think. This past weekend was the last day of the normal farmer’s market season, so I frantically went out and bought a good 30 pounds of fresh produce. I know! A fools errand for sure. I understand full well that fresh produce rots when not used quickly, but I couldn’t help myself. I began hording tomatoes and leeks and peppers and Brussels sprouts. Time to head home to make a super veggie heavy dish, right? Well not quite.
When I got home I took inventory of my haul and began thinking about what I might cook. That’s when the strange free-association began happening. I ran across Donalyn Ketchum’s Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes recipe from her blog The Creekside Cook. She has this method where she peels sweet potatoes and cuts them into fairly thick slices. Then she boils them in salt water until they’re just tender. Then she smashes them into a pan of hot fat with the bottom of jar and fries them. Of course I immediately recognized this as essentially the same technique used to transform plantains into tostones. And my next thought was that if you can make tostones out of sweet potatoes, then why not mofongo?
And why would I want to do such a thing? Carbs. It’s all about the carbs. A medium plantain and a cup of sweet potato both have about 4 grams of fiber. However, the starchy plantain contains 57 grams of carbohydrate, whereas the sweet potato only has 27 grams. That’s less than half the carbs for you English majors out there, and to me that’s kind of a big deal.
So there I was, mashing garlic and chicharrón into sweet potatoes in a large mortar and pestle. Speaking of chicharrón, I owe a shout out to Meseidy at The Noshery for the makeshift chicharrones recipe she created out of salt side pork as part of her Mofongo con Sopa de Mariscos recipe.
Not exactly Mediterranean fare, but so, so good. It definitely hits all the right comfort food buttons. You want to boil the sweet potato pieces until they’re soft on the outside but still just past crunchy in the middle. Otherwise you’ll end up with garlic flavored baby food, and we don’t want that do we? Heck no. For the same reason you also really want to use a mortar and pestel, or a high walled Puerto Rican pilón if you have one (I do not) to coarsely mash the sweet potato. A food processor is definitely not the way to go.
One more word of warning to you all: this is not first date food, folks! Mofongo a garlicky beast, and no one is going to want to make out with you after you eat it (unless you convince your sweetie to eat a bowl with you). Hey, just trying to look out for your love life here.
- 1 Green Bell Pepper, stemmed and seeded
- 1 Medium Onion, peeled
- 6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
- 1 Anaheim Pepper, stemmed and seeded
- 1 Medium Tomato
- 10 Pimento Stuffed Green Olives
- 1 Bunch of Fresh Cilantro
- ½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Medium Sweet Potato, peeled
- Pinch of Kosher Salt
- 1 4 Inch Square Block of Salted Side Pork
- 5 Cloves Garlic, peeled
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Pound of 21/25 Count Shrimp, Deveined and Peeled (save the peels)
- 2 Cups Water
- ½ Medium Onion, diced
- 1 Jalapeño Pepper, seeds removed, finely diced
- 1 Cup Sofrito (Recipe Above)
- ½ Teaspoon Annatto Paste
- ½ Cup Dry White Wine
- Juice of 1 Lime
- Salt to Taste
- Chop all ingredients very coarsely and add to a blender. Blend until well pureed. This will make much more sofrito than you need for this recipe, so save or freeze the rest for another use. It’s good stuff to have on hand.
- Pre-heat oven to 400°F (205°C).
- Cut the side pork into thin strips and place on a wire rack in a sheet pan. Bake in the oven until puffed and crispy, about 40 minutes. This is to make chicharrón. If you have a Latin American market where you can purchase some premade, go ahead and do so and skip this step.
- Bring about a liter of water to boil. Cut the sweet potato into disks about and inch thick. Boil until just tender on the outside and still firm in the middle. It’s key that you don’t overcook them or your mofongo will be the consistency of baby food. You want the sweet potatoes to be slightly underdone.
- In a large mortar and pestle, mash the garlic in the olive oil until well pulverized.
- Chop about ¼ cup of the chicharones and add to the mortar and pistle. Begin adding the sweet potato as well, a bit at a time, and coarsely mash until garlic and chicharones are incorporated.
- Form the mofongo mixture into four balls, each consisting of about ½ cup.
- Place the shrimp peelings in a pot with two cups of water with a bay leave and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out the shrimp peels and bay leaf and return to a simmer.
- Reduce the shrimp stock to intensify the flavor until only one cup remains.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet and saute the onions and jalapeño until onions are tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add the sofrito, fry until fragrant and garlic and onion have mellowed.
- Add annatto paste. Deglaze with white wine.
- Add shrimp stock and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add salt to taste.
- Place a ball of mofongo in a bowl.
- Ladel shrimp and shrimp broth around the mofongo.
- Garnish with extra cilantro, chicharrón, and minced scallion greens.