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May 25, 2006 05:47 PM

Tell Me About Yam Leaves

  • c

I've seen yam leaves listed as an ingredient in dishes on menus, but haven't had them (to my knowledge). A siting of fresh yam leaves at the farmers' market today has me wondering what they taste like, and in what ways I'd best use them in home cooking.

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  1. Those things were really popular among Chinese people a few years back (or at least they were in my neighborhood) because they basically grow like weeds in any sunny back yard.

    What we used to do was cut off the leaves (a little stem is okay, but I personally don't like it much) and stir fry in very hot sesame oil. Drizzle a little soy sauce on towards the end of cooking, and eat.

    To get fancy we'd sprinkle on some dried fish flakes from the Japanese market. The flakes are so thin that if you sprinkle them on while the vegetables are steamy hot, the flakes wave in the steam and look like they're alive. Kids love it.

    They taste like a very neutral leafy green, but can be slightly fibrous. I can't imagine the taste not being to anyone's liking, but the fibrous quality might not be for everyone.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nooodles

      Are yam leaves the same as amaranth? I've seen this in Asian groceries but haven't ever tried them. They have beautiful leaves with ruby undersides.

      1. re: cheryl

        No yam leaves are purely green. Personally I love yam leaves in congee. Yam leaves just quickly stir fried, as poster above suggested, as good. They also go very well with soy paste/oyster sauce, etc. Basically your typical green leaf prep. It's also great sprinkled with some fried garlic, I had it in a Hakka restaurant.

        Amaranth is a different veggie, that when cooked makes the dish look light purple (kinda like rhubarb?) They both can be prepared in a similar manner. Amaranth is slightly more tender and fragile, so I wouldn't put too much other stuff in that dish.

    2. Could anyone tell me how long they keep if refrigerated? Thx.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Steven Gdula

        funny, i just bought a bunch of yam leaves and a bunch of amaranth leaves yesterday at the farmers market!

        i cooked the yam leaves about 7 hours after buying them, with about 5 hours of refrigeration. i imagine they would last in the fridge (if you had the room - my stems were huge!) for about a day or 2. i found a recipe for the leaves that said the blanch, then rinse, then stir fry. i forgot the middle rinsing step and ended up with slightly slimy leaves (sauteed with chile infused evoo, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil). does anyone have any experience with the slime?

        i plan on cooking half the amaranth leaves (along with some of the thinner stems) tomorrow night and the other half the next night. after 1.5 days in the fridge they still look pretty good. i recently rediscovered amaranth leaves a few years ago after realizing that they were the same as the "chinese spinach" my mom used to cook when i was a kid!