So I bought a yam. Now what do I do with it?

So, I thought I’d actually try a true yam, which in local grocery stores–when they have them–are usually marketed under the name “ñame” of Costa Rican origin.

Now what? Bake it? Boil it? Skin doesn’t look particulary appetizing, so I guess I should skin it at some point.

Any thoughts would be welcome.

I was going to suggest a Karen Finley re-enactment, but there’s just no way to include the title of her most famous piece, “Yams Up My Granny’s Ass,” in a suggestion, without having it come across as, well, inappropriate. At least in a CS setting.

So instead, I’ll suggest you roast them. My favorite yammage is peeled, cut into chunks, tossed in oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted in a 400F oven for around a half hour. A little surface caramelization is critical.

We usually do what lissener does. It’s simple and tasty. You can also make yam fries: just cut up the yam into French fry pieces and fry in a bit of either olive oil or other vegetable oil.

For a more complicated dish, but wonderful beyond all measure:

**West African Peanut Soup with Chicken **
New York Times

Time: About 45 minutes
3/4 cup roasted and shelled peanuts
2 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
1 medium red or white onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken (about 2 thighs or breasts) cut into chunks
1 dry red chili, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups stock or water
2 sweet potatoes or **yams **(about 1 pound), peeled and cut into thick slices
8 plum tomatoes, cored and halved (canned are fine; drain and reserve liquid for another use)
1/2 pound collards or kale, washed and cut into wide ribbons
1/2 to 3/4 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth.

  1. Chop peanuts, or crush them with the side of a knife, or pulse them in a food processor to chop roughly.
  2. Put oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium heat; a minute later, add onion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken and continue cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes, until just coloring. Add 1/2 cup peanuts and the chili and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in the stock and the sweet potatoes, bring to a boil, and turn heat down to medium-low so soup bubbles gently. Partly cover pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, collards and 1/2 cup peanut butter. Cover and cook until collards are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning (you may want to add more peanut butter at this point), and serve, garnished with remaining peanuts.
    Yield: 4 servings.

We usually make this without the kale or fresh peanuts (we substitute crunchy peanut butter).

Eat it like a potato - yams are quite yummy and they cook much faster. I “bake” a yam in the microwave, takes about 5 minutes (make sure to prick the skin in a few places or you will have an energetic yam disassembly event to clean up).

Slice it open, put in a little pat of butter and some hot sauce or salsa. Delicious. The skin is very good, btw. Make sure to scrub before cooking to get any dirt or grit off.

Bake it like a potato? I’ve always liked my sweet taters and yams with butter and a touch of sweetness, like brown sugar or maple syrup, served alongside ham…I think it takes longer than 5 minutes in the microwave, though - keep poking it with a knife every couple of minutes. If you want a crisp hard skin you can put it in a hot oven for a few minutes after microwaving.