It's time for a lesson on tubers. We in the US like to think that we eat yams. We actually don't. A YAM looks a lot like a sweet potato, but it's actually in a completely different vegetable family, can grow over 7 or 8 feet in length, and is commonly found in Africa, Asia, and South America. But you'd be hard pressed to find a real yam in your local grocery store. You're probably looking at a sweet potato masquerading as a yam.
The reason is that a long time ago, some grocer decided that consumers were too easily confused by the many varieties of sweet potatoes. "What? A sweet potato with yellow skin? And now a purple one? Or is it supposed to be orange? Which do I choose?!" (I personally don't see what the problem is; we eat apples of different shapes, sizes, textures, and colors and no one started calling them grapes or plantains or avocados to differentiate). So someone started calling the more common orange-y sweet potatoes yams (the Garnet variety), and the rest of them, the yellow, white, purple and light orange ones, were dubbed sweet potatoes.
Garnet sweet potatoes- the orange ones- are perfect for this recipe because, being ridiculously sweet, they could use a bit of salt to temper them. The glaze itself is still sweet enough thanks to the brown sugar, but it adds a lovely savoriness that one needs in the perfect side dish.
Recipe by Kelly
Picture by Kelly
3 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the sweet potatoes in half length-wise. Then cut them into 2-inch chunks. (You may peel them if you prefer, but I happen to like potato skins. It's also less work). Place potatoes in a 9 x 13 inch pan (potatoes should not be stacked on top of each other).
- In a small bowl, combine oil, sugar, garlic, soy sauce and water. Brush glaze over potatoes. (Or if you have a large Ziploc bag, toss potatoes in glaze in the bag and then place in pan). Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake about 40 minutes, or until potatoes are nearly tender. Remove from oven and brush the glaze from the bottom of the pan back onto sweet potatoes. Bake another 10-15 minutes to lightly brown the tops. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.