Thursday, 20 March 2014


Yam con Curcurma, Cotto al Vapore & Arrostito & "Ketchup" Fresco con Peperoncino
Turmeric Steamed & Baked Yam with Fresh Chili & Tomato "Ketchup"

First and foremost, for my American friends, although a picture, or 6, can paint a thousand words... this is indeed a YAM and not a sweet potato. A Chinese "mountain yam" or "Natoimo" no less... I had to look that one up myself! Weird-looking critter, ain't it? I have been noticing them on Mrs Wong's market stand at the Frankfurter Kleinmarkthalle for weeks now and never got around to trying one- but this week I decided that had to change!

So, being brave, I took one with me... along with a few words of warning! Thanks for telling me beforehand that this strange looking root was going to be kinda slimy as soon as I cut it, Mrs Wong! Otherwise I would have probably freaked out a little! But being armed with this information, I already hatched a plan before beginning... and was really pleased with the way MY little creation turned out!

So the really question, once I had bought the yam, was- how am I going to cook it? And being as I was not familiar with it and could only make an educated guess as to the flavor, I decided to play it safe and just do something simple, leaving it pretty pure in its flavor. The only other ingredients were basically some Spring onion, ginger, cherry tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, lemon and chili powder for the ketchup that was to accompany the yam, a little cilantro as a final garnish and some turmeric, olive oil and lemon juice for the yam itself. Very easy and lots of fun!

In order to avoid any issues with the aforementioned subject of the sliminess of the yam, once sliced, I decided to not peel it- that way I could always pick it up by the outside edges- lol! So I gave it a good scrub under running water and then cut it into nice generous slices of almost 1" thickness. I spread the slices out in my steamer and sprinkled them with salt, before letting them steam for 10 minutes from each side. And in the meantime got busy with the ketchup...

For the "ketchup", I finely diced about 1" of ginger, 2 Spring onions and 9-10 cherry tomatoes.  I started off with the ginger in the frying pan, which I sautéed for 3-4 minutes before adding the finely chopped Spring onion. After a further 3-4 minutes I added the tomatoes, also finely sliced and gave them 3-4 minutes too, adding a good pinch of salt, pepper and about 1 teaspoon of chili flakes yowza!

By now, 10 minutes had passed, so I opened up the steamer and flipped over the now very slimy looking yam slices, salted them from the other side too and popped them back on top of my saucepan of boiling water to continue steaming for another 10 minutes or so. 

At this point I quickly prepared the turmeric seasoning/marinade for the yam from 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 6 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of turmeric and another pinch of salt for good luck. I put my ingredients into a little jar and shook it to mix everything up- although of course you can use a fork or a whisk to do the same thing.

Meanwhile, back on the ketchup front, by now the tomatoes, onion and ginger had cooked down and were soft and ready to be transformed. I did this by adding 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and enough boiling water to dissolve everything down. And then I let it simmer gently and reduce down for a further 10 minutes or so- which was plenty of time for me to get back to the yam, which was also ready at this point...

The yam was nicely cooked but not OVER-cooked, which is important because now was the time to add the turmeric "marinade". I took the lids off the steam racks and let the steam dissipate away, then transferred them to a bowl, poured over the oil,water, turmeric mixture and then carefully stirred the yam slices into the dressing until they were all nicely coated.

I set the slices out on an oven tray to bake at the maximum heat, at the top of the oven- the yam was almost done and it was now simply a case of getting the yam slices nice and golden and crusty. This took around 10 minutes from each side- and half way through, I flipped them over and added a light drizzle of olive oil and another sprinkle of salt. The act of baking diminishes the flavor of the turmeric and the salt somewhat- so be a little bolder than usual ;-)

By the time the yam was golden and crispy, the "ketchup" had reduced down to a nice, thick consistency and the only thing left to be done was to finely chop a handful of coriander to sprinkle on top as a garnish- terrific!

This was great! The yam was crispy on the outside but soft and juicy on the inside and together with the hot and zingy "ketchup" it was perfect and balanced. So it doesn't always have to be potatoes and they don't always have to be fried! I like to think that eating something healthy can still be exciting and fun- and I hope you all agree!

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