Thai Yam Yam Salad

Thai Yam Yam SaladThis punny recipe came about with my desire to learn new uses for African and Asian yams. When I say yam, you probably think of those dark orange sweet potatoes they sell in most every US market. They are, in fact, exactly that, sweet potatoes. I know, this is where you say, “No, no, no! Sweet potatoes are yellow and yams are orange.” I am so sorry to be the one to crush 100 years of American culture, but true yams actually grow in Africa and Asia. They look similar to potatoes, (and potato’s cousin, both of those afore mentioned sweet potatoes,) although these tubers tend to have more little hair-like roots protruding. Did you know that an African yam can grow as large as 50 feet long?! If you are ever working on a recipe that calls for these true yams, try an international market. From there, I usually say that you can use potatoes instead, but for this dish is might be a little different. With the yams, you can bake them for 10 minutes and get a nice dried outer later with a slightly crisp center. I’m think it’s safe to assume that the average American isn’t going to want to eat even the slightest crunchy potato, so for this instance I might suggest using turnips as a replacement.

Now, back to the pun part. In Thai a salad is a yam. Therefore, when making a salad that contains yams it could be called a yam yam, or perhaps the more accurate, yam yæm, …or does that mean jelly? Sometimes Google Translate can only help a struggling student so much.

Thai Yam Yam

By: Semiserious Chefs
Serves: 6-8


  • 8 inch length of Asian yam; peeled, cubed*, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 small cucumber (~8 inches); cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper; chopped
  • 16 oz imitation crab; chopped
  • 1 cup chopped cashews or peanuts

*It will be easiest to eat with chopsticks if everything is cut to roughly the same size

  • 3 T sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 t sesame oil; or more to taste
  • 3 T chili garlic paste
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 t fish sauce
  • Optional: Sriracha for extra spice, as desired


  1. Place the prepped yam cubes on a prepared baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. The outside will be gently roasted while the inside will maintain a little crunch.
  2. Prep the rest of the vegetables while your yams bake.
  3. Combine all of the sauce ingredients and whisk well.
  4. Toss the vegetables and crab in a large bowl with the dressing, adding the cashews at the last minute.

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