Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Growing, Buying, Cooking - Sweet Potato Leaves


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.

17 comments:

  1. I am always amazed at the varieties of greens at our local asian market. I never have a clue what they are or how to cook them. I will have to keep my eyes open for some sweet potato greens now!
    This recipe looks very enticing!

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  2. I had no idea you could cook sweet potato leaves, neat! Put garlic on anything and I'll try it once :)

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  3. I'm with Rosey. There are so many amazing greens yet I'm not sure what to do with them. I'll let you know if I see any sweet potato greens at my market. They have lots of interesting stuff.

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  4. Now I'm hungry. I've never tried sweet potato greens before....it sounds delicious. Chris Las Aventuras

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  5. Oh so on my list...want to share this one with my fam! Now I just have to find the greens! Awesome!

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  6. Yes Wendy i love it too. At least here we always have lots of them in our markets, the greens and the violets. In my case, after boiling i just put calamansi juice with soy sauce and I am done, it goes with anything fried. It is also very nutritious. I remember you have a wide area there, even with bamboo shoots, if i'm not mistaken. However, i dont know how to cook it.

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  7. Wow! I've never had sweet potato greens...at least not that I know of. I curious to taste it someday. It looks delicious!

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  8. Wow .. I thought the leaves might be poisonous like traditional potatoes. Thanks for the inspiration to try a new and different green.

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  9. I gotta try this....next year. I tried to start some sweet potato slips early this spring but the potato just never sprouted. It didn't rot either, so I decided to plant the whole thing in the ground when the soil warmed up. Still didn't sprout. Next year I'll try a few different kinds, hoping for one that will grow.

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  10. I love this vege! Sweet potato leaves often taste better with a little more oil. It would taste even nicer with lard oil hehe... I just stir fry the vege with lots of garlic and some salt. You have a really healthy vine shrub there Wendy... yum ;-)

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  11. I didn't realise that Sweet Potato leaves were edible until this week and this is the 2nd blog entry I've read about them today. I'm taking it as an omen as I've had some sweet potato shoots in a glass of water for a week now and today I noticed roots. My first foray into growing them - very excited.

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  12. I never cook sweet potato leaves before! I should get them from wet market!

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  13. I love this dish. Some cooks recommended adding some sugar and a little oil to the water for blanching the vege. I also like it stir fried with garlic and oil. But I like it most when cooked Malay style with belacan (har ko or dried shrimp paste) stir fried with some chopped chili, garlic and shallots. Another one is with fu yu (fermented soya bean paste), Chinese style. TQVM for the tip on growing sweet potato.

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  14. Never heard of this green. Looks tasty.Thanks for sharing.

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  15. I found sweet potato to grow much easier than potatoes. Our local Asian grocery and Sunday market sells sweet potato leaves.

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  16. I grew sweet potatoes for the first time this year. I did not find out until the end of the season the leaves were edible. I did not want to lose my crop so I took cutting and brought them inside. They are rooting quite nicely. I am hoping to keep the vine going over the winter and have fresh greens all winter.

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  17. HI: I am a newbie n I have a small garden. I want to try to grow more asian vegs. Any help is appreciated. So can i grow this green from any sweet potatoes? Any sweet potatoes from the supermarket and root it like how Wendy suggested. Thank you in advance

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