Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Sweet potato greens are among my favorite Asian greens to eat. They're mild, tender, and delicious, and are extremely easy to grow (see any signs of pests on the organically grown plant above?). The bonus is that at the end of the season, there are potatoes to dig as well!
GROWING SWEET POTATOES - My family grows a Chinese white variety of sweet potato because although the flesh is not as sweet and buttery as a traditional russet sweet potato, the leaves are tastier. To start your own slips, cut a sweet potato in half or large chunks. Place the chunk in a jar of water so that half of the potato sits above the water and half of it sits in the water. Use toothpicks stuck in the side of the potato to help with this task (think: 3rd grade science project). Once you see some healthy shoots growing from the top of the sweet potato, remove them carefully and place them in a cup of water. In a few days, they will root. Keep the water in the cup fresh. When the roots are about an inch long, the "slips" can then planted in the garden. Sweet potatoes grow well in soil that is loose and piled in mounds. Water well for the first few weeks, but water gently so that mounds don't erode. A big healthy plant like the one in the photo above has an abundance of leaves ready to be harvested.
BUYING SWEET POTATO LEAVES - I have never seen sweet potato leaves in a neighborhood supermarket or even at my large and diverse city farmer's market. It may be worth a trip to the Asian supermarket to see if sweet potato leaves are available.
COOKING SWEET POTATO LEAVES - Like most Asian greens, sweet potatoes are typically eaten cooked. The dish above is an easy family favorite. The greens are simply washed, boiled in a large pot of water for several minutes until tender, and then drained and topped with a few shakes of oyster sauce and lots of chopped garlic which has been flash fried in several tablespoons of oil. The garlic and garlic-flavored oil both are poured onto the tender cooked greens.