Just in time for your holiday meal planning I’ve got Spicy Glazed Sweet Potato with Sweet Potato Greens. Or are they yam greens? Or does it really matter?
I ask because one of my favorite things to order in Thai restaurants are morning glory greens that are stir-fried and doused in a spicy fish sauce. They’re so savory and addictive. I keep hoping I’ll run across the fresh version at the farmers market someday. If I do I’ll try to recreate that dish here on Sippity Sup.
However, I wonder if I’m waiting for nothing. Maybe the greens I seek are right under my nose.
The flowering vine known as morning glory is a member of the genus Ipomoea. Included in that genus are sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) and water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica). Both of these are common greens eaten the world over (though especially in Asian countries). Sweet potato greens make regular appearances at the Hollywood Farmers Market. Or are they yam greens?
Yams and sweet potatoes are different tubers from different genera (that’s the proper plural for genus I think). Years ago, when orange-fleshed sweet potatoes were introduced in the southern United States, producers and shippers thought they needed to distinguish them from the more traditional, white-fleshed potatoes. So the marketing geniuses settled on the name of a similar tuber known in Africa as nyami (of the Dioscorea genus). The word needed to be Americanized (of course?) and became yam. So, in this country at least, yams are actually sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) and have a moist texture and an orange (or sometimes white) flesh. Although the terms are generally used interchangeably, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the label “yam” always be accompanied by “sweet potato” (but not vice versa). This is probably what led to the confusion and has nothing to do with the spicy glazed sweet potatoes on a bed of sweet potato greens recipe I present here. It’s just some factual information I chose to include.
What I’m trying to get at is this. When I was at the Hollywood Farmers Market I saw greens that were labeled yam greens. I picked them up thinking I’d use them for the Thai-spiced morning glory greens (of the Ipomoea family) that I mentioned earlier. However, once I got home I discovered that the yams are not Ipomoea. So I balked, did I have verbally Americanized Dioscorea or governmentally mislabeled Ipomoea? It’s a huge conundrum.
So I took my queues from the season and roasted up some spicy glazed sweet potatoes and served them on a bed of sweet potato greens. I figure if I serve these greens with actual sweet potatoes there’s no denying that they’re sweet potato greens. Or does it really matter? GREG