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Stir-fried yam leaves with chilies and Sichuan pepper

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

I found these leaves at the Belmont Farmers Market a few years ago and had to ask the vendor what they were. I took home a bunch and made a simple stir fry with garlic, and fell in love with them. Today when I see them at the Asian grocery stores or farmers markets, I cannot leave without at least 1 (usually 2) bunches. Yes this is my crack!

Called yam leaves, or sometimes sweet potato leaves, they are beautiful heart-shaped leaves with a very delicate flavor and silky texture.

This is an amazing recipe that contrasts the delicate flavor from the yam leaves with the tongue numbing Sichuan peppercorns. These small berries, made famous by the spicy Sichuan cuisine, are neither peppers or chiles but from a different species of plant. They feel like they numb your tongue, but in reality are super-activating the sensors on your tongue so that you taste your food more intensely. More on this amazing ingredient here.

This outstanding book is the bible of Sichuan cooking, well written, lots of notes to help you learn about the dish and the culture, and a must for any home chef.

You can make this recipe with any Asian or regular greens: Water spinach, spinach, bok choy, or other.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


2 bunches, about 2 lbs, yam leaves, or other Asian greens of your choice, see notes

6 garlic cloves, finely sliced

8-10 dried arbol chiles, cut into 1 inch pieces, and the seeds shaken out

1-1 1/2 tablespoon whole Sichuan peppercorns

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil

Salt to taste

Take the leaves off their stems, the tops of the stems are tender and delicious, and wash well. Set aside.

Start heating the oil in a wok or shallow pan. Add the garlic and fry till golden. Add the chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. When they start to darken, do not burn them, add the yam leaves and salt and stir-fry. When the yam leaves are wilted and cooked, remove. Drizzle with the sesame oil and serve immediately.

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