Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Chinese wild yam, Japanese mountain yam, it is just good stuff!

Dioscoreae Oppositae - its English pharmaceutical name, or commonly Chinese wild yam, you can call it. Its other name - nagaimo, or Japanese mountain yam.

Seen them in Asian supermarkets, especially Japanese supermarkets such as Mitsuwa in the United States, but never tried them in my cooking. Seen them in Taiwan again and decided to have a simple stir fry to this. It's rather common in Taiwan and the people here believe this tuber has beneficial properties. In Mandarin, call it 淮山 ~ pronounced huai shan; or 山药 ~ pronounced shan yao. 山药 literally meaning "medicine of the mountain" - this tuber vegetable indeed has its healing properties. This wild yam even has sexual lubricating characteristics, as documented in Wiki.

Numerous tiny channels in the yam cross-section, are channels that produce the "slime"

This tuber vegetable is starchy and mucilaginous (slimly, gelatinous, sticky) when grated/sliced, and may be eaten plain (esp. those grown in Japan), as a side dish, or added to noodles. Can you see the numerous tiny round channels in the cross-section ? These are channels that produce the "slime". The long tuberous roots are cultivated for pharmaceutical as a superior herb. The dried white flesh of the tuber is sliced into long thin slabs and contains nutrients which can restore and enhance immune functions throughout the system. You can usually find these dried white flesh of thin tuber slabs, packaged with other dried Chinese herbs and sold as a complete Chinese tonic pack. I had a steamed herbal chicken recipe using Chinese dried herbs of dioscoreae oppositae and other herbs before.

Weekend Herb Bloggers, do you know this plant? It's my first attempt at this new ingredient and I hope to share this new learning and insight at Weekend Herb Blogging, returning to Kalyn this week.
Wild yam is known as an anti-inflammatory, a pain reliever and an antispasmodic (relieves muscle spasms). An alternative healing site on traditional Chinese medicine also indicated anti-aging application.

Historically, wild yams have been used to treat menopause symptoms, menstrual cramps, gallstones and muscle spasms. Most species of wild yams can be found growing in most temperate climates in the world. One species of yam, Dioscorea Villosa, is believed to have originated in east central North America. A related species, Dioscorea Opposita (featured in this post) is native to China. Both of these species contain diosgenin, a chemical substance with certain medicinal effects. Wild yam species from other regions of the world may have different chemical content and different effects.

Now for the recipe - Stir Fry Chinese Wild Yam

Stir Fry Chinese Wild Yam
-Chinese wild yam, sliced thinly at cross sections
-2 stalks green onions/spring onions/scallions julienned at the bias
-1 young ginger sliced thinly
-3 cloves garlic minced finely
-1 tbsp oyster sauce
- water

1.Heat 1tbsp oil in frying pan. Add in minced garlic, ginger and scallions and fry till fragrant
2.Add in sliced wild yam and mix well in the pan
3. Add the oyster sauce and some water, then allow entire mixture to simmer till wild yam is cooked (Note: it should turn from white to slightly translucent like the picture of the completed dish above)

This is not something that will burden your taste buds. You can have it with rice or pair them with noodles. And it's an absolutely nutritious dish!

Tag: , ,