Did you know that the New Zealand yam is commonly known as oca in other parts of the world?
We’re good at renaming things in little old New Zealand. If you’re of a certain age, you may remember the Kiwifruit as it was originally named – the Chinese Gooseberry.
According to NZ History online, “Despite the name, kiwifruit are not native to New Zealand. Seeds were brought to New Zealand in 1904 by Mary Isabel Fraser, the principal of Wanganui Girls’ College, who had been visiting mission schools in China. They were planted in 1906 by a Whanganui nurseryman, Alexander Allison, and the vines first fruited in 1910. People thought the fruit had a gooseberry flavour and began to call it the Chinese gooseberry. It is not related to the Grossulariaceae family to which gooseberries belong.
New Zealand began exporting the fruit to the US in the 1950s. This was the height of the Cold War and the term Chinese gooseberry was a marketing nightmare for Turners and Growers (the first New Zealand exporters). Their first idea, ‘melonettes’, was equally unpopular with US importers because melons and berries were subject to high import tariffs. In June 1959, Jack Turner suggested the name kiwifruit during a Turners and Growers management meeting in Auckland. His idea was adopted and this later became the industry-wide name.”
But that’s the kiwifruit.
Today, we’re talking about New Zealand Yams.
“I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.” – Popeye the Sailorman
The term ‘yam’ can be a little confusing.
Yams grown in New Zealand originate from South America, where they are known as oca. These sweet little tubers are a pinky-orange colour and have a slightly shiny and ribbed surface.
New Zealand yams are quite different from the tropical-type yams grown in other cultures. In America (and therefore in American cook books and blogs), the vegetables known as ‘yams’ are in fact sweet potatoes. This is even more confusing when you consider that New Zealanders know these as kumara…
Regardless of what you call these babies, they are quite delicious and can be boiled, fried, roasted and mashed. They are a wonderful alternative to white potatoes, which are a nightshade and not permitted in the elimination stage of the Autoimmune Protocol.
New Zealand yams are all over the place at the moment. Back home, they are traditionally served with roast lamb – another Kiwi favourite. As I was making my Jamie Oliver-Inspired Four Hour Lamb over the weekend, I thought some wee yams would be just the right accompaniment.
I vaguely remember my Mum roasting yams in orange juice and honey when we were growing up. I’m pretty confident she did this, but she has no recollection of it. So, that meant she couldn’t give me a recipe.
I decided to recreate one…
- 450g NZ yams/oca
- 2 tablespoons happy fat (I used duck fat)
- zest and juice of one orange
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- Heat your oven to 200°C/400°C
- Pop the yams in a baking dish. Spread them out into a single layer. Drizzle melted fat over the top, along with the zest of the orange. Sprinkle over a generous pinch of salt. Toss together. Pour over the orange juice
- Roast for 30 - 40 minutes, turning once or twice
- Remove foil. Drizzle honey over the yams. Roast uncovered for a couple of minutes
And, in case such things interest you, yams are one of the highest vegetable sources of carbohydrate and energy. They are also a source of vitamin A from beta-carotene and vitamin B6. They also contain potassium at levels of dietary significance. While not as high as carrots, yams are a good source of beta-carotene. (i)
E N J O Y !
This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable