Thursday, January 20, 2011

Soy-glazed Sweet Potatoes

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. 

Soy-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
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
  1. 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).
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 

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