No More Wimpy Yam Fries or I Yam What I Yam

I love the idea of Yam/Sweet Potato Fries.  I just don’t like many of the recipes that I have found.  Reason:  Wimpiness.

I can’t think of any good reason anything or anybody should be wimpy.

Wimpy is not a good quality and is definitely not a good quality when it comes to food.  Name me one food that is described as wimpy and is something you would cook?  I can’t think of any.

And when you see yams in the supermarket, they do not look wimpy.  They are not very attractive, but I certainly wouldn’t call them wimpy.  They are certainly better looking than the humble baking potato.  Spuds don’t get wimpy when you fry or roast them up.  They don’t bend under the pressure of dipping them in ketchup or aioli or whatever else you can think of to dip them in.  They have some muscle under heat.  Yams have more flavor, though, and that’s why I keep hoping to find a way to turn them into fries that aren’t wimpy.

While this recipe does not totally satisfy my dream of a crispy, non-wimpy yam fries, it does have a nice crispy coating that will make you think you are eating  non-wimpy sweet yam fries.  And, they are cut thick enough so that they do not bend under dipping pressure. And they have a kick to them.

So…where do we start?

Because I am a photographer and not a chef/cook, I like to start by photographing the ingredient in it’s basest form.

I love to photograph fruits and vegetables because they have great shapes, form and color.

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Put them in some pretty light (window light) with a simple background and they almost become works of art.

Many of them look beautiful with some backlight.

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts

Some have beautiful color.

Mini Sweet Peppers
Mini Sweet Peppers

And some have lovely form.


And then there are yams.

In fact, I think most types of potatoes (spuds, bakers, yams, sweet potatoes) are pretty boring from a photographic point of view.


Not very attractive.

Peeled yams are not much better.

Peeled yams
Peeled yams

Hmmf.  Luckily I like the recipe so it doesn’t really matter how well the yams photograph.

I looked at a lot of Sweet Potato Fries recipes while trying to find one that would give me crispiness.  I almost gave up until I  decided to add something to the outside to give me the illusion of crispiness…cornmeal!  Why didn’t I think of this before?  And, it’s relatively healthy because it is made in the oven not in the fryer, even though I used butter to stick the cornmeal to the yams.  You could probably use olive oil, but you are on your own with the results.

I cut the potatoes into good size wedges after peeling them.  Then, I melted some butter, put the cut up yams into a large plastic bag, poured the melted butter over them, sealed up the bag and shook it up until the potatoes were totally covered.  Then I poured in the spicy cornmeal mixture and shook it all around until the potatoes were nicely coated. I placed them on a parchment covered baking sheet and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes.

Cornmeal Coated yams
Cornmeal Coated yams

Make the dip while the potatoes are cooking.

It may look like I cooked them too long because they might look a bit ” over-caramelized”.  (Yes!Chef! was careful not to call them overdone.)  But they tasted very good.

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I made a dipping sauce with Greek yogurt and some ingredients we had on hand in the fridge.  I like the yogurt for a base for two reasons. 1) It has a nice tang to us.  2)It’s better on my waistline than mayo or sour cream.  I’ve got a wedding coming up, you know, and that means pictures that will last an eternity. Vanity sets in…

You could probably substitute mayo or sour cream.

At any rate, the potatoes were sweet and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside from the cornmeal.  They held up to the dipping sauce and Yes!Chef! gave them his stamp of approval.

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Lookin’ Good and Crispy

Here’s the recipe:

Crispy Cornmeal Coated Yam Fries

Makes enough for 3-4 servings


2-3 Yams, peeled and cut into chunky pieces (I halved them and then halved them again before cutting them into chunks.)

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

4 Tablespoons cornmeal

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Put the prepared potatoes into a large sealable plastic bag like a 1 gallon freezer bag.
  3. Pour the melted butter over the potatoes.  Close up the bag and shake vigorously to coat the potatoes.
  4. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and then pour over the potatoes.  Reseal the bag and shake vigorously again until the potatoes are thoroughly covered.
  5. Place the coated potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft when poked with a fork or knife.
  7. Sprinkle a little Kosher salt, if you like

For Dipping Sauce

1 Bunch Cilantro, stems cut off

2 cloves garlic, skins removed

juice of 1 lemon

2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut in half

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

Salt, to taste

Greek Yogurt


Place all ingredients except yogurt in food processor and pulse until it forms a chunky paste.

When ready to serve potatoes, mix in about 3 tablespoons of this mixture with 3-6 tablespoons of yogurt, depending upon your taste.

Dip away.

Mix this with the Greek Yogurt
Mix this with the Greek Yogurt

When my daughter was young she loved to eat carrots and celery with a little Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing as a dip.  She called it “Dip Dip A Leggy”.  I do not know where she got this name, but it has stuck with our family so that anytime we serve veggies with a dip, we call it “Dip Dip A Leggy”.  You don’t need to call it that.  You can call it “Ginger Garlic Cilantro Yogurt Dip for Crunchy Yam Fries” if you like.  But, I think “Dip Dip A Leggy” is easier to say and will probably be a conversation starter.  Feel free to make up any story you like as to why you call it “Dip Dip A Leggy”.

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Published by

Karen Schmautz


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