Even before I saw the Eater article on the majesty of frozen sweet potatoes, I knew I had to try one. I have been following Chef George Lee on Instagram for months now, and his account is packed with genius tips and delicious, incidentally vegan recipes. (Just look at this stunning display of cabbage.)
But a recent post on frozen, baked sweet potatoes left some his followers a little confused. I can only speak for myself, but frozen baked sweet potato is not something I had ever encountered in my almost 35 years of living in the United States. In Taiwan, however, it is quite common, and for Lee, it’s a nostalgic summer treat. “It has this caramel ice cream flavor and texture,” he told Eater. The frozen root vegetables are so ubiquitous in Taiwan, you can find them in corner convenience stores, but Lee has had to make his own since moving to California.
As you can see from the video, making one of these sweet potato pops is easy. All you’ll need is a small, slender, yellow-fleshed Japanese sweet potato, and a freezer bag. Scrub it real good, then place it—un-punctured—on the rack of of a 450-degree oven. Roast for about an hour, until the skin separates completely and the sugars begin to ooze out.
Let the potato cool completely to room temperature, then seal it in a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer. “Around five hours is the perfect freezing time,” Lee told Eater, explaining that the potato will take on a soft and creamy texture. “When you feel the sweet potato, you can feel that it’s firm, but it’s still soft, like grabbing ice cream that has a skin on it. Like a Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar.”
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I tried the treat myself, and—even though I overcooked mine a little—I was blown away by just how custardy and refreshing the frozen tuber was. The caramel flavors promised by Lee were there and delicious, and I inhaled the thing much faster than any other sweet potato that has ever graced my plate. (And I am not a slow sweet potato eater, historically speaking.)