When I saw Japanese Sweet Potatoes featured at the local co-op, my heart began to race in excited anticipation.  I just knew these were going to be amazing.  To top it off, I’d been overly excited about the vanilla salt I had “brewing” for me at home.  Vanilla salt.  I had picked up some extra fine (both finely ground and superb in quality) sea salt and combined that with the insides of one vanilla bean and was waiting for the flavors to really meld and intensify over the past two weeks.  It was ready for me and I was ready for the vanilla salt!  A Japanese Sweet Potato was going to be the perfect accompaniment – or rather the salt was to join and perfect the potato.

And, back to the potato.  For some reason I had it in my mind that this unique potato was going to be a passionate purple color inside.  Perhaps my musings of deep purple came from reading Alisa’s recent post from a Hawaiian dinner with purple potatoes…I’m not entirely sure.  However, the image of deep, passionate purple inside this sweet starch was etched in my mind.

The skin of the potato was a deep, deep purple, almost red – magenta.  Exciting!


After almost 2 hours in the oven, I unwrapped my delicacy from the foil, and ever so gently slit the center with the smoothness of a butter knife, in the anticipation of this amazing color on which to feast my eyes.

I felt so foolish.  Buttery yellow.


As I said, I have no idea where this fabrication of deep, dark purple came from, but it was now gone.  I felt rather disappointed.  “Yellow?  This is all wrong.”

Such is life.  I went about with the rest of the meal preparation.

The result – indescribable.

Marc and I looked at each other, speechless.  The flavor combination was absolutely superb – depth, texture, complexity, and satisfaction all together.


I had combined both ground turkey and pork sausage, browning just enough, to then add additional coconut milk and the vanilla salt.  Interesting combination – yes.  Amazing flavor – YES.  And the Japanese Sweet Potato – oh my.  I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted anything so uniquely sweet and starchy and so buttery – and delicately salted vanilla.  Really, words do not do any of this justice.  As I said, we were speechless.  This meal was indescribable.

My SWEET Surprise – Japanese Sweet Potato and Vanilla Sausage Crumble

2 large Japanese Sweet Potatoes, wrapped in foil

1/2 lb. ground pork sausage
1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 – 1 tsp. vanilla salt**
1/3 c. full fat coconut milk

ghee (optional)
extra vanilla salt to taste (optional)
sauteed kale with vanilla salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake Japanese Sweet Potatoes until soft, not mushy.  Depending on the size of the potatoes, this could be 90-120 minutes.

Over medium heat, brown the ground meats, seasoned with the vanilla salt.  As the meat is finishing browning, add coconut milk and reduce to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until meat is fully cooked and most of the milk has absorbed.

Remove potatoes from oven and slice open.  Moisten with ghee, if desired, adding a small amount of vanilla salt – not necessary and may mask the amazing flavor of the potato.

As always, feel free to top with sauteed kale (seasoned with the delightful and delicate flavor of the vanilla salt).

**I combined 1/4 c. finely ground sea salt with the seeds of one vanilla bean, tightly covered.  Over the course of 2 weeks, I continued to allow the flavors to meld and strengthen, stirring and shaking occasionally.  The mixture will appear slightly pink as the two items combine.

8 thoughts on “My SWEET Surprise

  1. Vanilla salt? That sounds fabulous! I need to make some, and soon! I’ll try it with this recipe, but will use just ground turkey (I don’t care for the flavor of pork, except bacon) and winter squash instead of sweet potato. Jesse can do sweet potatoes, as you saw in that picture from Hawaii, but I can’t. Yum, this is such a genius idea. You are clever 😉 By the way, I don’t know if you can find the Okinawan sweet potatoes here…they have light tan skin and as you know, are dark purple inside.

    1. The vanilla salt is so easy and so exquisite. I wish I had thought of it sooner!
      It’s too bad you can’t do sweet potatoes – they are “the bomb” in my book. And, the Japanese variety are just so amazing – extra sweet, extra dense, and indescribable. Although, I’m in love with so many different winter squash too.
      Pork is not my favorite meat either, except when it comes to tenderloin. The sausage, though, is quite lovely when mixed with the ground turkey and the coconut milk. I would encourage you to give it a try 🙂

      1. I’ve had Japanese sweet potatoes before and yes, they are delicious, but too much starch for my system. I may be able to handle a small amount now, but I’m still a bit weary.

        I can probably handle the pork in this case then. Maybe I’ll give it a go 😉 Thanks for the encouragement.

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