Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sweet potato leaves

Sweet Potato leaves - not something that you come by every day, but worth trying if you get a hold of it. During my last trip to the farmers market I chanced upon them at a stall that sells a lot of produce used in Japanese cuisine and it is owned by Japanese women. These are the leaves of Okinawan sweet potatoes which are grown in Japan. The texture is wonderful - soft but not slimy and a little like morning glory leaves. I hadn't eaten them in 6 years since we moved to New York.  Malaysian Chinese eat it stir fried with sambal belacan and dried shrimps - a hot and spicy stir fry. The Rasa Malaysia blog has a very nice recipe if you are not vegetarian. Sweet potato leaves are also used in African cuisine. Another blogger has a stew with sweet potato leaves - click here for recipe.

Sweet Potato leaves

I made a vegetarian version of what I recollect eating in Singapore. It is simply stir fried with garlic, dried red chili, rice wine and soy sauce. A friend from Singapore was visiting the day I made it and she suggested that the next time, I fry a couple of tablespoons of minced garlic and sprinkle on top of the stir fry for additional flavor. I will try it the next time. If you do it before me, let me know.

Stir fried Sweet Potato leaves

One bunch sweet potato leaves
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or sherry
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce (sodium content varies by brand - adjust according to your taste)
1 tablespoon canola oil

  1. Trim the hard stems from the sweet potato vine, leaving behind the softer parts of the stem. 
  2. Heat a wok with canola oil over high heat. Reduce the heat and add the minced garlic and chili flakes. Cook for 30 seconds till fragrant. Increase the heat and add the sweet potato leaves and toss well to coat them with the oil. Add a tablespoon of water to add some moisture to the pan to help wilt the leaves. Cook for 1 minute. 
  3. Now add the rice wine or sherry and cook for another minute. Finally add the salt and soy sauce and another tablespoon or two of water  and continue to cook for a few more minutes till the leaves are completely wilted. They should not be crunchy. Serve warm as a side with hot rice.
Serves 2 to 3.


  1. I ate them in China and I have pulled them out at the farm and thrown them on the compost heap, because I was unsure.. if there are some to be had, post monsoon, I will definitely try this recipe. Would you have a close up picture of the leaf so I could be sure that what I have is edible?

  2. I love this recipe. Thanks for dropping a comment on my blog...those leaves are of an Indian variety of white flesh sweet potato.