Candied sweet potatoes, or goguma mattang, are a popular Korean sweet snack made by deep-frying sweet potatoes and coating them in syrup and sesame seeds.
roasted, unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)
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Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut the sweet potatoes into medium to large 1 ½-inch chunks. Make sure the chunks are similar in size so that all the pieces are able to cook evenly.
In a medium pot, heat 4 cups of canola oil (or enough oil to cover the sweet potatoes) to 350°F.
If you decide to garnish your candied sweet potatoes, you can re-toast your black sesame seeds and peanuts separately while waiting for the oil to come up to temperature. Toast the black sesame seeds in a small pan for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Remove from heat and put aside in a small bowl. If using peanuts, lightly reheat the peanuts in the same pan for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant, and set aside.
Once the oil reaches 350°F, deep-fry the sweet potatoes until golden brown for about 12 minutes. Make sure to occasionally stir the sweet potatoes since the ones on the bottom will brown faster than the ones on top.
Once golden, place them on a tray lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Make the syrup: In a large saucepan, place 3 tablespoons of the oil that you used to fry the sweet potatoes along with 8 tablespoons of granulated sugar on medium heat. Do not stir the sugar and leave it alone to let it melt. Stirring the sugar will crystalize the syrup.
Set aside a tray lined with parchment paper. Once the sugar starts to brown after about 5 minutes, you can swirl the syrup around by moving the pan. Let the syrup fully brown after another 2 minutes.
Once the syrup is browned, stir in the fried sweet potatoes and coat with the syrup. Be gentle so that they do not break apart. After they are coated, spread the sweet potatoes out evenly on a parchment lined tray and sprinkle with your choice of black sesame seeds, crushed peanuts, or both.
You can eat them immediately by dunking a piece in ice water before eating or let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.
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