Have you ever had "boniato"?
It's a sweet potato that is popular in the Caribbean. It's light in color and fluffy when cooked.
I first tried this sweet potato variety at a special food and wine festival event in the Bahamas. These fluffy sweet potatoes with mint were served alongside freshly caught wahoo fish, and as good as the fish was, I could have skipped it completely and just had a huge plate of the sweet potatoes, they were so good.
The chef who prepared the mash was Chef Sean Bernal of The Oceanaire Seafood Room Miami, who recalled to us how his grandmother in Puerto Rico would make him boniato sweet potato with onions and mint.
Chef Sean has generously shared with us how he prepared the mash. The trick, he says, is to roast the sweet potatoes so that you get the richness of flavor from the caramelization of the sugars in them. I prepared a couple batches, one boiled and one roasted, and I agree that the roasted approach produces more flavor.
The real surprise was the combination of the sweet potatoes, crunchy raw chopped onions, and mint! I never would have thought to put mint with sweet potatoes, but it's a great combination.
Regarding the boniato sweet potato. I think they are pretty easy to come by in places like Florida, but our local Whole Foods doesn't carry them. So I used a Japanese variety of a pale yellow sweet potato instead, which worked fine. (Apologies to Chef Sean, but we make do with what we have, right?)
Another surprising touch was the addition of just a little bit of vanilla, it made the mash seem even creamier.
I honestly can't remember if Sean added sugar or not, but if you like your sweet potatoes to be sweet, you can add a little to taste (I think we added one teaspoon for the whole 3 lb batch.)
Sweet Potato Mash With Mint
- 3 pounds light yellow sweet potatoes (boniato if you can get them), peeled, cut into 2 inch chunks
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup (or more) water
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1/2 small garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves, packed, (about 30-40 leaves)
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro, packed
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Roast the sweet potatoes:
Rub olive oil all over the sweet potato pieces, sprinkle lightly with salt, and put them in a roasting pan, cook at 425°F for 40 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned and a fork easily pierces through the pieces.
Mash the sweet potatoes, add water:
Place cooked sweet potato pieces in a large bowl, add olive oil, mash with a potato masher until completely mashed. Slowly add water, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sweet potatoes reach desired consistency.
Stir in the onions, garlic, mint, and cilantro. Stir in vanilla extract:
Add more salt, and maybe a little sugar if you want, to taste.
Recipe method told to Elise by Chef Sean Bernal of The Oceanaire Seafood Room Miami.