Yams are tubers that are closely related to lilies and grasses. These plants are native to Asia and Africa. When shopping for yams you might notice that they are right next to sweet potatoes in the produce aisles. Yams and sweet potatoes are quite similar in looks and taste. Both come in a variety of colors. However, the flesh of yams is a little starchier and drier compared to sweet potatoes. That makes yams ideal for grilling on a George Foreman Grill, as they will hold up to the high heat of a contact grill.
Because yams and sweet potatoes are similar, some markets will accidentally label them incorrectly. What is recommended when shopping for yams is to look for those labeled as Japanese yams. These will be firm with flesh that is white, purple, or reddish. A good market will often have a display of the tubers that are cut in half so you can see the color of the interior.
In this post I explore 2 recipes for yams. The first is a simple “French fry” recipe. The second is for a vegan version of fritters that are similar to Indian pakoras or latkes. The fritters include zucchini for added moisture to help bind them so that you don’t have to add an egg. If you are not vegan, you can certainly add an egg for binding. This recipe has a little bit of a kick.
Grilled Yam Fries
- 2 whole yams washed well
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or peanut oil
- 2 tsps dried herbs, such as herbs du Provence or a Cajun seasoning mix
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- Additional salt and pepper for seasoning after grilling
Total time: 25 min – Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 15 min – Serves: 4 people
1. Cut the yams into fries that are approximately 3 inches long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick rectangles. These don’t have to be perfect. Wedges are okay too. I leave the skin on for the beneficial vitamins and fiber.
2. Place the yam sections into a bowl. Add the EVOO, herbs, salt, and pepper. Using clean hands, toss the yams to make sure they are all coated with the oil and seasonings. Set this aside while you heat your grill and oven.
3. Preheat your oven 225°F or to the warm setting. Preheat your GF contact grill to high. Have a sheet pan ready for the fries, as you will grill in batches.
4. Place the seasoned fries on the grill without crowding too much. Close the top and cook for 7 to 8 minutes across the ridges to get grill marks. Flip the fries and grill for approximately 7 minutes longer. I flip and move my fries around for more even cooking. Check your fries for desired doneness. I just bite into one – a snack for the cook.
5. Remove fries to a sheet pan and place in the oven to keep warm while you cook the next batch. Salt the warm fries just before serving. Serve with catsup (ketchup) or your favorite vegan aioli.
Yam Fritters with Tahini Dipping Sauce
This is an appetizer size portion. To make this more of a party snack or entrée, double or triple the recipe for both the fritters and the sauce. The cooked fritters will keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, as will the dipping sauce. You can easily reheat the fritters in a toaster oven or even on the GF grill.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes
Serves: 2 to 4 people as an appetizer
- 1 cup shredded yam (use a box grater)
- 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
- 4 scallions minced
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
- Pinch of cayenne powder
- 4 tsps extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (you can substitute another flour)
- 1 tsp arrowroot starch
- Extra virgin olive oil for grilling
- Sea salt for final seasoning
- 1/4 cup tahini paste (sesame paste)
- 1/4 cup cool water
- Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Total time: 25 min – Prep time: 15 min – Cook time: 10 min – Serves: 2 people
1. In a medium bowl, mix together the grated yams, zucchini, and scallions. Add the curry powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, and EVOO. Mix all of this together and set aside for a few minutes.
2. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour and arrowroot. Add the dry ingredients to the vegetables 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well each time. Test the mixture to see if it holds together. You can use less dry ingredients if patties form easily. If still too wet, add a little extra flour until you can form small patties. Yes, this involves getting your hands messy.
3. Preheat your GF grill to high. While it is heating up, place a piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or foil on a cutting board. Brush some EVOO on the paper or foil. Wet your hands just slightly. Take a small amount of the fritter mixture, just shy of a golf ball size, and roll into a ball. Then, flatten the ball and place it on the oiled paper or foil. Repeat this step until you have 8 fritters. Brush or drizzle EVOO on top of each patty.
4. Make the sauce while the fritters are cooking (see step 5). Place the fritters on the hot grill and close the top. Grill for 4 to 6 minutes until there are good grill marks. Flip the fritters over and pour any oil that has accumulated in the tray over the top of the fritters. Close the grill and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes. Test a fritter for desired doneness. These will be moist inside with a slightly crunchy exterior.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini paste, water, lemon juice, salt and pepper, cumin, and garlic powder.
6. Serve with the tahini dipping sauce on the side of each plate or place in a ramekin. A little of this goes a long way.