Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ever wondered how to eat Yams?

Our tenth food fight, Wow! We started with eggplants in February licked our lips over peach sweets in March, made good use of a bucket load of basil, decided chokos were actually quite special and mastered some homemade pasta in June and we are still enjoying the healthy competition every fortnight.

We have even upgraded our setup, with some fancy pancy lights (a new studio light kit, with standy uppy lights and a free sand bag! very important when your clumsy) and a really expensive lens to add to our shared photography kit, a Canon 100m 2.8m. Thank you to a very helpful Graeme Buckingham from

We aren't really sure yet quite what it does,or whether it will make us look better than we actually are! but all the food bloggers who are anyone have one, so that seemed like a good enough reason. So we are amped to experiment and see what we discover. So look out for some experimental food photos coming your way soon. 

I've never ever cooked with Yams, but I fell in love with their colour on a recent trip to the Avondale Markets (Auckland). So that's a good enough reason to make them the subject of our next food fight.

Quick snack: poke a few holes in skin and microwave for five mins (turning halfway)

Yam facts
  • Despite a physical similarity and a frequent confusion with their names, yams and sweet potatoes are not even distantly related. They are in two different botanical families. Yams are actually related to grasses and lillies.
  • Estrogens (sex hormones) were first made from a similar compound in yams. Yams were used commercially to produce hormones for contraceptive pills, and steroids. (Don't let this put you off!)
  • New Zealand yams are better known as ocas.

Ingrid's dish: Chilli and lime yam wedges
I love potato and kumara wedges, you can take your french fries or chips back, give them to someone else, I don't want your skinny strips. Yams are the right size and super easy to make into a wedge, and they lend themselves well to a bit of spice. I thought these would look great as an appetiser for a party, you could add a creamy aioli or a dip.

Chilli and lime yam wedges
What you need
Makes enough for 2
500g of yams (sliced lengthways)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 Lime (for serving)

1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 lime zest grated
1/4 tsp garlic powder or throw a couple of peeled garlic cloves on baking tray
1/2 tsp cumin
pinch of brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

How to make
Line a baking tray with baking paper, brush with olive oil, lay yams skins down. Brush with olive oil. Combine all seasoning ingredients or grind in a mortar and pestle until you have a fine powder. Scatter over yams. Bake at 180C for 35 mins (turn half way) or until golden. Serve with lime.

Raw Yams - Try roasting them with a honey spice...
Vanessa Dish: Honey baked yams
Most of us stick to the usual veges in our winter roasts. We often comment "I wonder how you would cook those? or they look interesting". Yams look pretty weird, they are small and knobbly but like Ingrid said have an appealing yellow/pink colour.

They are super simple to cook and cook quite fast because they are so small. I decided to throw them in with a roast dinner, but jazz them up a bit with a honey and spice coating.

Don't be scared and give them ago. If your kids like potato, they are sure to like the sweet sticky cute yams!

Yams - A cross between a potato and a kumara taste wise (Sweet potato)
Honey baked yams

What you need
500grams Yams
2 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Olive oil (or vegetable)
2 tsp spice mix - try chili, ginger, lemon pepper, harrissa mix, chili and lime seasoning. (I used ginger)

How to cook
Melt the honey and add about 2 tsp of spice mix to the honey. Drizzle over the yams and season with salt/pepper to taste.

Bake in the oven along side your roast meat for about 20 - 30 minutes. They are ready when soft. (just like potatoes, stick your fork in to test)

Enjoy, Vanessa

PS - I love Ingrid's idea of serving them with aioli - go the whole hog and serve this with your roast too. Make sure it's extra garlicky!

Honey spiced yams - surprise the family!


  1. What wonderful and unusual looking yams you have there! I haven't seen anything like that before...the colours are so vibrant!!

  2. Aren't they just! Its so cool discovering weird and wonderful produce, and these yams are so readily available in NZ supermarkets and super cheap. By the way, your post about the Churchill Arms, that used to be my local when I lived in the UK. Brings back great memories. The food was fab and the publican was an Irish bloke who was in love with my best friend!!!

  3. I've never cooked yams before, I hate to admit but I thought they were the kind of vegetable my great grandmother would cook (stodgy and bland). So I always avoided them. But that chilli and lime recipe has definitely tickled my fancy. I wont overlook those funny looking veges anymore!