I’m happy to report that I’m still on the Chinese five-spice powder kick that I wrote about back in February. This traditional Asian spice blend, which is easy to find at most supermarkets, is most commonly made of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel, and Szechuan peppercorns. As I mentioned in my spiced peanut post, five-spice powder is usually used in savory Asian meat, seafood, or vegetable dishes, but it’s a tantalizing partner for sweeter foods, too. Turns out it’s also a delicious way to spice up baked sweet potato fries. (Or “fries,” in quotes, since they’re not actually fried.)
I got the idea for pairing five-spice powder with sweet potatoes from the book Cocktail Food: 50 Finger Foods with Attitude, by twin sisters Sara Corpening Whiteford and Mary Corpening Barber. The difference in my version here is the dipping sauce. The sisters pair their spears with a soy-based sauce, but I was hankering for something thicker and creamier. A little experimentation resulted in this lemony ginger aioli, which I now make all the time for artichokes and other dippables.
What do you like to do with five-spice powder? Let us know!
Chinese five-spice powder, a traditional Asian spice blend that’s easy to find at most supermarkets, is most commonly made of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel, and Szechuan peppercorns.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 3-inch spears about ½-inch thick
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- In a large bowl, combine the oil, five-spice powder, and salt. Add sweet potatoes and mix well to coat evenly.
- Place spears in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in pre-heated oven until soft (15 to 20 minutes).
- In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, and ginger. Serve aioli as a dipping sauce for the sweet potato fries.
Make it ahead:
Make the aioli a couple of days in advance and store in the fridge in a tightly sealed container. Sweet potatoes made in advance can be reheated in the oven for a few minutes before serving.