Sweet potato hash

Sweet potato hash

Two of the most luxurious things I can think of are a leisurely breakfast after a good night's sleep. They sound so prosaic, but these matter to me because they are so very elusive.

I don't always sleep well and have suffered from insomnia off and on for years. Recently, I bought a little gadget I wear on my wrist and, among other things, it logs my sleep patterns.

The results are quite horrifying. On the first night I wear it, I sleep a grand total of five hours and 12 minutes. But for part of the time, I have technically been awake and am "restless" for 34 minutes. So in the end, I get only four hours and 34 minutes of sleep.

Things are slightly better the next night, probably because I am knackered. From about eight hours of sleep, I am restless for 38 minutes and awake for one. In all, I have seven hours and 19 minutes. Yay.

Then things slide back to bad again the next night. Out of about seven hours of sleep, I get only six hours and 10 minutes of real sleep. So believe me when I say I really treasure deep slumber.

A leisurely breakfast is something else that eludes me. On weekdays, I have a bowl of steel-cut oats and I gulp it down at home or at work, my mind on the day ahead. I try to sleep in on weekends so I generally skip breakfast to get some extra sleep.

But sometimes, I get lucky and all the stars align. Yes, on a few Sundays, I wake up refreshed from good, solid sleep and have nothing planned for the day, so I can have a leisurely breakfast or brunch.

I make the best of it and cook a proper meal.

My weekday oat routine is a no-brainer. I just dump oats and water in the slow cooker and scrape breakfast into a bowl the next morning. But weekend breakfasts can be a little more elaborate.

Recently, I make a simple and delicious dish which keeps me happy and satisfied all day.

It is a take on hash, a hearty breakfast dish of fried potatoes with meat and onions.

I use sweet potatoes instead, after spotting some good specimens in the supermarket. Kale, which I love, goes into it as well.

Google either of these two ingredients and you will find long lists of health benefits. But an earnest hash is a bit of a letdown, so I throw in some smoked pork belly. The smoked meat comes in slabs so I can cut them into chunks, and it tends to be a lot less salty than bacon.

You can use any kind of smoked sausage too or leave out the meat altogether.

Shichimi togarashi, a Japanese seasoning made up mostly of chilli flakes, together with sansho, citrus peel, black and white sesame seeds, hemp seeds and powdered ginger provides some heat and zing.

I always have a bottle of it in my pantry, but you can use fresh thyme, smoked paprika or a little cumin.

Now, I regularly roll my eyes in restaurants when dishes topped with eggs appear on the table. It has become such a cliche.

However, this is one of the few dishes that cries out for sunny-side-up egg topping. So I use an extra pan, fry one up and slide it on top of my pile of potatoes.

Well, what a delicious and easy fry-up. I eat it sitting on my couch, with a cup of green tea, and revel in the luxury of it all.

hsueh@sph.com.sg facebook.com/tanhsuehyun BACKGROUND STORY MAKE IT YOURSELF: SWEET POTATO HASH INGREDIENTS 1kg sweet potatoes 300g green kale 2 medium onions or one large one 3-4 cloves garlic 250g smoked pork belly 1 tsp shichimi togarashi or to taste 1/2 tsp salt or to taste Four sunny-side-up eggs (optional) METHOD 1. Peel the sweet potatoes and steam over high heat, until a paring knife just about goes through to the centre. A 250g sweet potato will take 30 to35 minutes. Let cool thoroughly. You can do this the night before making the hash. Refrigerate the sweet potatoes and take them out about 30 minutes before you start cooking. 2. After the potatoes have cooled completely, cut them into 2cm chunks and set aside. 3. Rinse the kale under running water, pat dry. Using a sharp knife, slice off and discard the tough stem in the middle of each leaf. Slice the leaves crosswise into 1cm-wide ribbons. Set aside. Peel and finely slice the onions, peel and finely chop the garlic. 4. Slice the smoked pork belly into 1cm-thick strips. Place in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Stir to prevent burning and allow the fat to render. 5. Add the onions, stir-fry until wilted, then add the garlic and stir it well into the pork and onions for about 30 seconds. 6. Add the kale and let it wilt. Turn the heat down to medium low and let cook for at least five minutes, stirring with a silicone spatula. 7. Turn the heat back up to medium high and add the sweet potatoes. Cook for another five minutes or so, tossing the ingredients with the spatula. Be gentle - you do not want to break up the sweet potatoes. 8. Add the shichimi togarashi and salt and mix well. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. 9. Divide the mixture among four plates and top each one with a sunny-side-up egg if desired. Serve. Serves four.

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