Leave it to Lynne Rossetto Kasper to figure out what my stir-fries have been missing. I've been cooking my way through The Splendid Table's new cookbook, How to Eat Supper, and there has been no shortage of epiphanies and inspiration. I'm always looking for more things to do with sweet potatoes (she calls them yams) because I find myself buying more every time I go to the store. They are just so comforting, healthy, and they last forever. Sweet potato fries are a regular event at my house, but they never seem to fully explore the potential of the ingredient.
In this recipe, the fantastic Lynne treats the humble sweet potato the way it should be treated - with tons of flavor and complexity. Don't get me wrong, I find myself dreaming of a simple baked potato with butter and brown sugar a bit more than I'd like to admit, but all too often the tuber is tossed to the side. Here, it's the star.
She calls it a curry, which I suppose it might be and I'm just not up on the full range of uses of the word, but the strongest flavors are ginger, jalepeño, basil, and lime. Yum. The key here is the ginger - the recipe calls for ginger "peeled and sliced into paper-thin matchsticks". Luckily, I have a good knife, but I see how it might be a challenge.
Cutting the ginger into paper-thin matchsticks may seem fussy, but there is method to what seems to be madness. That shape changes how you taste the ginger in this dish. Crushed or chopped ginger would taste different - an interesting thing to remember when you see very specific instructions like these in Chinese recipes. There's always a reason.I made this dish twice, once as a simple stir fry and another to make lettuce wraps, where I pared it with fresh sliced cucumber, cashews, and yogurt in fresh butter lettuce leaves. Sadly, the book is due back to the library today, and the hold list is miles long, so I can't renew. My birthday's tomorrow, maybe I'll get my own copy. Hint hint.
Sweet Yams in Ginger-Stick Curry
4 quarts salted water
2 large Garnet or Jewel yams (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-rounds.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
One 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into paper-thin matchsticks
4 large garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
1 jalepeño, sliced very thin
2 whole scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 large shallots, sliced thin
Salt and Pepper
1/2 light-packed cup fresh basil leaves, course chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1. Bring water to boil.
2. Once water is bubbling fiercely, drop in the yams and cook them at a hard bubble for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain in a colander and turn into a serving dish. Set the pot back on the stove.
3. Generously film the pot with oil. Set it over medium-high heat and add the ginger, garlic, jalepeño, scallions, shallots, and generous sprinklings of salt and pepper. Saute for two minutes, stirring often. Then cover the pot tightly, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the ginger has softened.
4. Stir in the basil and cook, uncovered, for no more than 30 seconds. Spoon curry over yams, and squeeze lime juice over the finished dish.