Summer time in Taiwan made George Lee’s pores and skin itch: The humidity trapped the sweat on his physique, the air thick and heavy. On these “dreadful” days, Lee dipped right into a comfort retailer, making a beeline for the freezer, its door soaked with condensation. He’d pluck one of many perforated plastic baggage and re-emerge into the sweltering warmth, pulling a frozen candy potato out of the freezer bag, biting into the custardy chilly flesh. Then — and solely then — summer time was bearable. “It’s so nostalgic,” says Lee, a 19-year-old prepare dinner, who has amassed an immense fanbase on Instagram and TikTok for his vegan cooking movies and recipes. “It has this caramel ice cream taste and texture.”
In Taiwan, Lee says that the splendidly easy deal with of a frozen baked candy potato (冰烤地瓜) is simple sufficient to seek out in a comfort retailer’s freezer, or in some locations, offered on the road from coolers. In California although, the place Lee now goes to high school, he can’t simply stroll right into a gasoline station and depart with a candy potato popsicle. “You’ll be able to’t discover it anyplace. You simply need to make it by yourself,” he says.
Not too long ago, Lee shared a video explaining the way to put together this snack along with his half-million Instagram followers, and there have been various confused feedback. Lots of his followers, he realized solely after posting the video, had by no means eaten a still-frozen candy potato. They couldn’t image the feel of the icy tuber: “Would it not be strong… after I eat them the subsequent day,” requested one commenter. “Eat frozen or let it defrost?” requested one other, with a confused hand-to-chin emoji. “I didn’t count on folks could be so stunned,” Lee says. “Lots of people had been like, ‘What is that this?’ A minority of my viewers who’re primarily based in Taiwan had been like, ‘That is my favourite factor ever.’ I simply like to see that folks really feel like they will reconnect with a part of their childhood or their tradition, by watching a few of my movies.”
The method, as Lee outlines in the recipe on his website, is absolutely fairly easy. If Lee had been nonetheless in Taiwan, he’d begin with a sure orange candy potato selection which he hasn’t been capable of finding in America. Within the States, he opts for Japanese candy potatoes, the purple-skinned satsuma-imo, with its pale yellow flesh. “You need to select small- to medium-size candy potatoes, as a result of bigger ones are typically starchier and more durable to prepare dinner evenly,” he says. Lee turns the candy potatoes over in his fingers, ensuring they haven’t began sprouting — as soon as they start to sprout, he says, the sugars leech out. He scrubs the pores and skin, sharpening away any filth, so it’s good to eat as soon as the potato is baked. (“The pores and skin is absolutely, actually good. Like, so tasty.”)
Lee then balances the cleaned candy potatoes immediately on an oven shelf, the temperature set to 450 levels, so the excessive warmth can flow into evenly. The candy potatoes prepare dinner for about an hour, however Lee says he is aware of they’re completed when he squeezes them along with his tongs and “the pores and skin feels hole, as a result of we didn’t poke any holes or something within the pores and skin. The moisture within the candy potato will come out and push the pores and skin outward. So the flesh will separate from the pores and skin.” When sugars start to ooze from every candy potato — you might wish to put a sheet tray on the shelf beneath — the odor of darkish caramel fills the kitchen.
From right here, there are two choices. On days when he doesn’t really feel like ready hours to eat, Lee locations a candy potato on an uncovered plate — to forestall condensation — within the freezer. After 5 or 10 minutes, a chill has set by to the middle. This makes for a good, refreshingly chilled candy potato, however it received’t convey on that ice cream texture — it’s price seeing this course of by to the tip. When he has extra time, and his craving isn’t so ferocious, Lee lets the candy potatoes cool fully of their pores and skin on the countertop earlier than placing them in a freezer-safe bag. “Round 5 hours is the proper freezing time,” he says. You’ll know they’re prepared when the candy potatoes tackle a “delicate and creamy texture. If you really feel the candy potato, you may really feel that it’s agency, however it’s nonetheless delicate, like grabbing ice cream that has a pores and skin on it. Like a Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar.”
With out easy accessibility to comfort retailer freezers loaded with candy potatoes, Lee retains a batch of home-baked ones in his freezer always. (There’s case to be made for keeping sweet potatoes in the freezer before baking, too.) “I eat one each morning whereas I’ve courses, or I’m doing work. It’s nonetheless frozen so you need to eat it slowly, and simply savor the morning,” Lee says. Because the feedback on Lee’s Instagram video proved, it’s tough to think about simply how creamy, how soothingly chilly, how ice cream-y the freezer transformation of a candy potato actually is till you’ve tried it for your self. As Lee places it after I ask him to elaborate on the flavour: “It simply tastes like summer time.”