What’s cooking today: Sweet potato scallops in the air fryer

What’s cooking today: Sweet potato scallops in the air fryer
Tony Jackman’s sweet potato scallops, an ideal side dish, photographed in Die Boekehuis in Calvinia. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Often an air fryer can be used to deal with a side dish for whatever main event you’re planning for supper, whether roast chicken, a steak or a lovely piece of fish. These simple sweet potato rounds fit the bill perfectly.

These aren’t chips, and they’re not crunchy. But they’re succulent and soft with a bit of bite; sort of al dente in the way a good pasta is perfect when it’s “to the tooth”. You can season them any way you like, but all they needed for me was salt.

I used kara sweet potatoes (or what Americans call yams, which must be one of the ugliest words in the English language). I honestly don’t like the flavour or texture of the purple-skinned ones. 

The key here is the slicing of the sweet potatoes. I chose fairly slim ones because they provide medium-sized scallops. A scallop, in this sense, is a very thin round of vegetable. My mom often made regular potato scallops and fried them crisp like chips.

Peel them, hold the potato down firmly on a cutting board, and use a strong, sharp knife to deftly cut (saw, really) through them only a couple of millimetres thick. I found that it was easy to effect this.

(Quantities depend on how much you require)


Kara sweet potatoes (the orange-fleshed ones)

Olive oil


Other seasonings or herbs of your choice


Peel the sweet potatoes and slice them as thinly as you can. You don’t want thick rounds, so get a steely grip on that knife and work carefully. You can see from the photograph how thick they need to be. (Or use a mandoline, I don’t own one.)

Put them in a bowl of water for 20 minutes, then drain them thoroughly. Once drained, pat them dry with kitchen paper or a kitchen towel which you can then throw in the wash.

Pour a little olive oil into a deep bowl, add all the sliced sweet potatoes, and toss as many times as needed to coat every one of them.

Preheat the air fryer to 200℃. Scoop enough of the potato rounds into the basket to cover the base, and cook them for 15 to 20 minutes, but you have to interrupt the cooking process several times to shake the pan and toss them so that they cook evenly and don’t stick together in a clump at the bottom of the basket.

Repeat until they’re all cooked. Season with sea salt or smoked Kalahari salt, a product that I love, or other seasoning that takes your fancy. Serve as a side dish. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido. Order his book, foodSTUFF, here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.


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