Stir fry sweet potato leaves, also known as yam leaves or sprouts, or 番薯苗 (faan1 syu4 miu4 in Cantonese), are one of my favorite Chinese vegetables. I like to call them a tastier, more tender spinach!
Like many other Chinese vegetables, they are best cooked very simply with light seasoning and some garlic.
How to prepare sweet potato (or yam) leaves
Peel off the leaves from the main stem
For this stir fry, we want the most tender leaves. To peel these leaves off the main stem, bend them close to the main stem until they snap. Then pull away from the main stem to remove some of the fibrous outer layer (as seen in the third picture below):
Wash the leaves by submerging in water
Submerge the leaves in a large bowl of water and swish them around to remove any dirt or bugs. If your leaves are on the dirtier side, you can soak them for longer in lightly salted water.
Save the stems for another dish
Because the main stems are typically tougher and thicker, they're not as easy to eat. My family prefers to just stir fry the leaves for this dish for the most tender texture.
You can either save the stems for a different dish, or you can stir fry the stems first, then add the leaves near the end of the cooking process.
You may also like these other Chinese veggie recipes:
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Stir Fry Sweet Potato Leaves with Garlic
- 1 lb sweet potato leaves
- 4-6 cloves of garlic
- ½ tablespoon oyster sauce
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon sugar
- dash of white pepper
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
Prepare the ingredients
- To prepare the sweet potato leaves, snap off the leaves growing out of the main, thick stem and pull away to remove some of the fibrous outer layer. (Watch the video for a visual guide!) The main thickest stems are often too fibrous to eat, but you can save them for veggie stock or different stir fry dish.1 lb sweet potato leaves
- To clean the leaves, submerge them in a large bowl of water and swish around gently. If your leaves are on the dirtier side, you can soak them for longer in lightly salted water.
- Roughly mince the garlic and set aside.4-6 cloves of garlic
Stir fry the sweet potato leaves
- To a preheated pan on low-medium heat, add neutral oil. Once the oil is warm, add the minced garlic. Stir fry for 1-2 min or until fragrant and garlic is lightly golden (not brown).1 tablespoon neutral oil
- Add the sweet potato leaves (it will look like a lot to start with, but they’ll wilt) and turn up the heat to medium-high. Regularly rotate the leaves so that they all have a chance to come in contact with the hot pan.
- After about 2 minutes, or when most of the leaves have softened, push the leaves aside in the pan and add the water, oyster sauce, salt, sugar, and white pepper. Mix to dissolve all the seasoning in the water, then stir fry thoroughly for another minute to incorporate the flavor into the leaves.½ tablespoon oyster sauce, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon sugar, dash of white pepper, ⅓ cup water
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Enjoy!