The Spicy Ingredient That Will Transform Your Sweet Potatoes

Certain food pairings are just destined: peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, fresh tomatoes with basil, spaghetti and meatballs. It's not just a coincidence that certain food pairings appear to be a match made in heaven. According to Food Pairing, the reason certain foods pair well with one another has to do with their shared aromas. Essentially, you want to pair foods that share "aromatic matches." The science behind food pairings is quite extensive and there's even a flavor map that helps create perfect pairings. Well-Tuned shares some tried and true flavor suggestions to keep in mind when trying to pair foods. One easy tip is to pair sweet with salty or spicy. Sweet desserts may be the first thing that comes to mind, but sweeter savory items, like sweet potatoes, also abide by this rule.

Sweet potatoes get their natural sweetness from an enzyme called amylase. When the potato is cooked, amylase is released and creates the sweet, malted flavor we know and love (per Home Cook World). That sweet flavor is what makes them perfect to turn into sweet potato pie.

And while it's a Thanksgiving staple to serve sweet potatoes loaded with even sweeter items like marshmallows, a spicy element may elevate your sweet potatoes this year.

Sweet potatoes love a little spice

Korean Youtuber Chef Chris Cho shared a video in which he topped his roasted Korean sweet potato with kimchi. In the video, he peels the skin on the potato and adds kimchi before taking a bite. Much to Cho's surprise, he finds out that not all Koreans eat their sweet potatoes this way. Even though he mentions growing up enjoying this as a snack, his significant other can even be heard saying that his combination is "weird." Many viewers shared Cho's enthusiasm for the snack with one user writing, "BEST SNACK EVER!"

In the video, Cho is eating a Korean sweet potato, also called goguma, which differs from the orange sweet potato commonly found in U.S. supermarkets. Goguma is sweeter than orange sweet potatoes and has a chestnut flavor, according to Just One Cookbook. Goguma is often used in desserts or dehydrated and eaten as a dried snack called goguma mallaengi.

If you can't find goguma at your local market, you can still enjoy sweet potatoes and kimchi. Bon Appétit appears to share Cho's affinity for the sweet potato kimchi hybrid in the form of kimchi butter. Bon Appétit's recipe involves combining the spicy kimchi with rich butter to create a compound butter that melts umami glory atop the hot sweet potato. In this version, orange sweet potatoes or Japanese sweet potatoes can be used, with either being a delicious option.