Jenga Japanese Sweet Potato Fries are crunchy on the outside and tender sweet and delicious on the inside tossed with a little cinnamon and sesame seeds and plunged into a delicious honey ginger soya sauce. A fun Jenga game and a healthy after school snack too!
I first posted this recipe back in March 23, 2012 and I have played plenty of Jenga and have eaten loads of Jenga Japanese Sweet Potato Fries since then.
Feeding and Fun in one recipe
I know you are probably wondering why this recipe got its name. About 7 years ago, our family move to Japan with nothing more than our luggage bags and we had no toys for the kids. This was really not a worry as we had a whole country to explore. However, in the evenings my boys needed something to do and what is better than playing with your food so I came up with this recipe for Jenga Japanese Sweet Potato Fries to keep my boys entertained and happily fed.
Have you ever played the board game called 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 game and fun after school snack.With the actual Jenga board game, you have the chore of putting the wooden block together perfectly so it fits back into the box. With Jenga Japanese Sweet Potato fries, you just eat your mess. How perfect is that!
Healthier alternative to Candied Sweet Potatoes (Daigaku Imo, 大学芋)
I miss Japan and especially around the autumn time, I get especially sentimental. I miss going for walks in Negeishi Shirin Koen and listening to the dried leaves crackle under my feet and feeling the cool crisp air against my face. I miss the B1 floor of the SOGO department store in the Yokohama station where you can sample a little bit of of all of the delicious Japanese treats. One delicious treat that I love is called Candied Sweet Potatoes (Daigaku Imo, 大学芋) However this dish is fried and is not so healthy. I wanted to create a low-fat, gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free baked dish with reduced sweetness and made the ginger honey soya dip optional too.
Recipe substitutions for Jenga Japanese Sweet Potato Fries
Living in Hong Kong, I still have access to all of the delicious Asian Autumn harvest and we have the purple sweet potatoes here with the bright purple skins and the light yellow interior. I scrubbed my sweet potatoes well and just leave the skins on as they add a delicious crunch and extra vitamins and minerals too. If you don't have access to an Asian market near you, you can use the Western orange sweet potatoes and they are just as delicious for this dish.
Can you spot the non-conformist in the picture below?
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 savoury to desserts. However, today I chose to make something a little healthier with my Jenga Baked Sweet Potato Fries.
Jenga Japanese Sweet Potato fries is just the kind of healthy snack you have been looking for.
More Fun Japanese Appetizer Recipes
Jenga Japanese Sweet Potato Fries
- 3 cups japanese sweet potatoes
10 (Asian sweet potatoes) or about 3 cups sliced into wedges
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp sugar or sugar alternative or brown sugar, coconut sugar, sugar alternative (optional)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
Honey Ginger Sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
or maple syrup for vegan
- 1 tsp soy sauce
or tamari for gluten free
- ¼ tsp ginger dried ground
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees or 230 degrees Celsius
- 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)
- Dry off Japanese sweet potatoes thoroughly. In a bowl (or directly on your baking sheet) add sweet potatoes, olive oil, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar (coconut sugar or sugar substitute) and sesame seeds if desired. Mix well and place on baking sheet. Brown sugar is optional.
- Place Japanese Sweet potatoes on baking sheet and place in oven to bake for about 20-25 or until tender and golden brown.
- Optional - make the honey ginger soya sauce. In a small sauce pan add the honey, tamari/soy sauce and ginger to pan and cook until thick and bubbly. Set aside.
- 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 honey ginger soya sauce.)