One of The Cat’s pet peeves about living here is the lack of variety in vegetables. She misses the seasonal vegetables that she used to eat back home. One of the vegetables is shan yao. She translated shan yao as “mountain herb” but was not able to describe it clearly. She said its a very healthy food.
This year, since we were visiting Shanghai in the spring, shan yao would be in season. On one of our first nights there, we ordered a mixed vegetable stir fry that included shan yao.
The shan yao is the white slices of vegetable.
When we returned. I did a search over the internet and realized that shan yao and realized that shan yao and the Japanese yamaimo are one and the same. Here’s the Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioscorea_opposita. In the past, I’ve only had yamaimo grated into udon noodles so I didn’t connect shan yao to yamaimo. The stir-fried shan yao did not have the sticky, gooey, and slimey texture I normally associate with the grated yamaimo.
The other day, I found yamaimo at our local Japanese membership store. Because it is so expensive (between $7 and $8 per pound), I only bought about half a pound.
I was able to stretch the shan yao for two nights. I combined it with Shanghai cabbage, black fungus, dried mushrooms, and Enoki mushrooms. The broth was simply sugar and salt in water (the dried Shiitake mushrooms provided the “base”).
Although shan yao will not be on our regular grocery list, it will be on our list for special occasions. I was glad to find it at our local market.