This is not just a post about how to stir-fry yet another leafy green vegetable. Instead, I want to bring awareness to an amazing yet humble vegetable––sweet yam leaves.
Benefits of Yam Leaves
Yam or sweet potato leaves have a long string of nicknames in other parts of the world. “The queen of vegetables!” “The longevity vegetable!” “The anti-cancer vegetable!” Pretty great credentials for what always seemed like a throwaway vegetable to me.
Some research has shown that yam leaves are more nutritious than spinach, celery, carrots and cucumbers when it comes to vitamin B, iron, zinc, protein, antioxidants, and calcium. They supposedly enhance immune function, boost metabolism, lower blood sugar, improve eyesight, and act as an anti-inflammatory.
You’re thinking what I’m thinking aren’t you? Give me some yam leaves, stat! While the world of food-induced health benefits is big, I’m convinced after my (admittedly, limited) research that these vegetables are a hidden gem.
But if you don’t believe me, our friends Karen and Philip were also big contributors to my new love of stir fried yam leaves (sweet potato leaves or di gua miao 炒地瓜苗). Other than the discovery of Vietnamese Coffee from our last visit to Colorado Springs, Karen also insisted that we try stir-fried yam leaves. Big score for my regular rotation of veggie dishes!
What Do Yam Leaves Taste Like?
As for the taste, sweet yam leaves taste a bit like spinach, but don’t leave that film on your teeth after eating. With the addition of ginger, garlic, and some Shaoxing wine, needless to say I run to the sweet yam leaves when I see them at the Asian supermarket!
Putting the academic talk aside, cooking sweet yam leaves is easy, of course. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t be quite so excited at the prospect of eating them regularly. Besides this simple garlic and ginger stir-fried version, you can also use them in soups and salads (yes, you can eat them raw as well!). How great is that?
Take your yam / sweet potato leaves and pinch off each leaf, including the stem, from the main stalk and any other tender parts of the vegetables. Wash and rinse thoroughly a couple of times and set aside to drain off any excess water before cooking.
Now turn the heat to high, and add in the sweet yam leaves.
Serve your healthy stir fried yam leaves immediately.
Yam Leaves, Stir-Fried Sweet Potato Leaves (炒地瓜苗)
- Pinch off each leaf, including the stem, from the main stalk and any other tender parts of the vegetables. Wash and rinse thoroughly a couple of times and set aside to drain off any excess water before cooking.
- Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for about a minute. Now turn the heat to high, and add in the sweet yam leaves.
- Stir and add in the sesame oil, Shaoxing wine (optional), ground white pepper, water, salt (to taste) and a pinch of sugar. Stir to cook for a couple of minutes until all the leaves are wilted. Serve immediately.