Secret Ingredient: Yam Leaves

On a recent trip to Elmhurst I stopped by an Asian market on Broadway. I picked up a few things: Chinese broccoli, a tub of fresh coconut and tapioca candies, and a bag of yam leaves. Never having seen them before, I wasn’t sure what to do with them; I just hoped they wouldn’t be as intensive as the pumpkin vines I used in WI. My “extensive” research told me that they were not — I simply had to pick off the leaves and tender parts of the stems. I quickly sauteed some mushrooms, then tipped them out of the pan into a bowl. I added a bit more oil to the pan, then tossed in the yam leaves. When they began to wilt I salted them and tossed them, then added the mushrooms back to the pan. I added a splash of vinegar and soy sauce, and covered it for a moment to let it all steam together, then served the mix over rice. The yam leaves didn’t have unique flavor; they were delicious, tender greens, with texture similar to pea shoots. They’re much easier to use than those pumpkin vines; if you see yam leaves on sale, I’d recommend picking some up.

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