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Sweet Potato Leaves - Liberian Stew

Provided by Besie-Nyesuah Wesley, a Village Acres CSA member. 

Use either the leaves of the lighter sweet potatoes (the starchy less sweet kind) or the bright orange sweeter sweet potatoes. The lighter sweet potato leaves I think are darker and therefore more nutritious. Both are high in iron and anti-oxidants. In Liberian when you've lost blood or have a child with low iron the doctors will tell you to go and buy some sweet potato leaves. After a week you're healed!

Anyway:

You will most likely need a bundle a person.

If you're making for 3 people you will probably need 5 cups of water. Steam beef, chicken, pork, any hard meat in this water in a pot. It's hard to know for sure the exact amount of water so it's a little about give and take (not much exactness going on with these African recipes!)

Get a large bowl for the greens. Over this bowl slice up the greens thin, a little less than a quarter inch thick. Include the stems (maybe cut a bit of the ends off if rough). This will give the stew a little more texture-i.e. it won't be soggy. Start at the stems and work towards the leaves. Hold the stem in your hand tightly and slice and readjust as you get towards the leaves. You can do this easily with about 5-6 greens in your hand.

Get a large pot. Chop up a med-large onion, some garlic. Stirfy these and the greens in about a cup of oil per bundle of greens in the large pot. Again you will have to gauge this. If you start to stirfry the greens and there doesn't seem to be enough oil or they start to dry, add more.

[Regular canola or some other type of light vegetable oil, i.e. not avocado (!) is fine. These bring out the flavor of the greens. Some Liberians also cook it with red palm oil. This is made from the fruit of the palm tree. It's really high in antioxidants and vitamin A as well as other good things. You can find it online, in African food stores, or make a tastier version that serves as a good "sauce" on rice by making a stew from the fruit of the palm. But that's another story.]

You can add seasoning salt (I use an organic mixture), salt or some other type of seasoning you like to the stirfry.

Keep stirfrying for about 5-8 minutes. Stir until the leaves get weakened. Then add the steamed meat mixture AND the water that is in the pot with it. Drop in about a Tablespoon of tomato sauce. You can add any fresh pepper now (I usually ad habanero some people may want something less spicy). You can also add crab, dried fish, and other hard crustaceans at the same time you are adding this meat. Do not add soft seafood at this time, however. It will break up into tiny bits.

Let the mixture cook for about 20-30 minutes at about medium high heat (or less depending on your stove). Stir occasionally. Don't put the stove on too high or else it will dry or fry the water from the leaves. During the last 10 minutes you can add softer seafood like salmon. You can also add shrimp at this time or wait until 5 minutes or so before its done (depending how cooked you like your shrimp).

Keep tasting and watching for it to be the consistency and taste you desire. When done the stew should be a mixture between American style greens and stew but more on the greens end.

Serve over rice. They are usually good enough to eat alone though!

It's not necessary to add all these types of meats and fish. I do because I like all of them and find the stew tastier that way. Some people also add pig feet-I usually do. Some people just add fish. The latter might be the healthier way. My grandfather has only eaten fish for 50 or 60 years and he's looking pretty good for 105 years old! But that still hasn't gotten me to switch to an all fish diet!


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