Did you know that the tuber most people outside the Caribbean call yams are really a milder sweet potato? On the islands we have several varieties of yams and in this recipe I’ll be using Kush Kush, which is probably one of the more harder varieties to source. I recall as a young fella on the islands how excited our dad would be when he came across some Kush Kush, but today I can readily get them at any of the larger Asian grocery stores which seem to be popping up everywhere.
As we have different varieties of yams, so too the taste, texture and starch content. Kush Kush is a much more drier when cooked and it’s texture is somewhat sandy and brittle, so you’ll find that the finished dish will be crumbly as compared to if you used another common variety.
3 lbs kush kush yam
1 large onion
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
2 tables spoon shopped parsley
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
Notes: Be sure to wear gloves or coat your hands with vegetable oil when peeling the yams as they may irritate your skin. You can add additional flavor to this dish by adding some fried bacon or salted cod when you cook the onions.
The first step in preparing this dish is to peel, wash and cut the yams into similar size pieces. Then place the yam pieces in a deep pot with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water, reduce to a rolling boil and cook until tender (about 20 minutes). After 15 minutes, use a sharp pairing knife to pierce the yam pieces and if there’s no resistance, you’ll know it’s fully cooked. Boil as if you’re boiling potatoes. Skim of any frothy residue at the top of the pot when boiling and discard.
As the yam boils, it’s a good time to prepare the other ingredients.
When the yam is fully cooked, drain and crush while it’s still hot (chunky).
In a saucepan heat the olive oil on medium heat, then add the onion and cook for a couple minutes. Then add all the other ingredients and cook for another 2 minutes. Now add the crushed (boiled) yam and give it a good stir.
You have a couple options now. You can heat through so all the flavors marry and you get all the lovely goodness with every bite (2-3 minutes of cooking) Or you can allow it to cook for a longer period, until you start getting a nice sort of crust. Try to serve hot!
This is a lovely vegetarian meal on it’s own, but it’s just as good as a side dish paired with stewed, curry or grilled meats. Remember you can add additional flavor by adding bacon or salted cod fish pieces. If adding bacon or salted cod, cook these items first before adding the onions etc. Remember to wear gloves and to wash your hands immediately after handling scotch bonnet peppers. And if you’re concerned about the raw heat… don’t include any seeds or the white membrane surrounding the seeds.