Most places in the states, your potato options are pretty narrow. You've got the ubiquitous and completely uninspiring russet, and if you're lucky, you can find some red-skinned "new potatoes" as well. And, of course, during the holidays you've got yams. I think its fair to say that New Zealanders have it much better when it comes to potatoes. I count about ten different varieties at my local grocery store, in a range of shapes and colours. So I figured it's time I dive in and give some of them a try. I started with the kumara - a popular New Zealand root vegetable.
They come in three main types: red kumara (red skin, white flesh with red flecks), orange kumara (orange skin, orange flesh), and gold kumara (yellow skin, yellow flesh with apricot-coloured flecks)
While they may look like yams, kumara are not nearly as sweet, though the orange variety is sweeter than the other two. They have a very particular flavour which reminds me of breadfruit. The red kumara has the strongest flavour, in my opinion, followed by the gold, with the orange being the most mild ands also the softest in texture. In order to get a full appreciation of the qualities of each, I prepared them very simply, by pan-frying them with some rice bran oil.
kumara sliced 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick
1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Run the kumara slices quickly under cold water to rinse off some of the starch. In a frying pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Place kumara in pan in a single layer. Pan-fry until chips start to turn golden brown (this takes maybe 3-5 min.) Gently turn chips over and brown the other side as well (this only takes about 2 min). Remove from pan and pat off excess oils with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, fresh ground pepper, and a little nutmeg. Serve immediately.
Both Loren and myself enjoyed these immensely and probably ate more than we should have. The red kumara, with the strongest breadfruit-like flavour and the firmest texture, was my favourite.
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