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Sweet Potato Green Purses

A little heaven on earth is dim sum spring rolls filled with juicy pork, sweet potato greens, tofu and Chinese herbs tied up with a little chives purse string and steamed and pan-fried until delicately crispy and then plunged into a zesty ginger soy sauce. 

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The best way you get to know a country is through its people, language and you guessed it “The Food". Food is something that transcends all cultures, ages, and religions and is a great way to meet new people in a foreign place.

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I think one of the best ways to get to know Hong Kong is at their wet markets. A wet market is kind of like a farmer's market on steroids. The same vendor shows up every day, twice a day, at the same stall selling their bounty of fresh fish, fruits, meats, tofu, flowers and delicious fresh vegetables in season.

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Are you familiar with VRAI Magazine?

The VRAI Magazine is wonderful online magazine about lifestyle, travel, home and garden and of course--- food. I hope you will take a moment to stop over and see my latest article about a tour of Hong Kong's wet markets and a matching recipe with my lucky wet market finds. Please click HERE for the VRAI Magazine link.

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I visited the Aberdeen market early in the morning to see what was fresh and in season. I saw a new vegetable I had never seen before and started asking around about this green small-leaved vegetable. Some leaves are heart-shaped.

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Some leaves have pointy ends and they are called sweet potato greens (Ipomoea batatas). The leaves or tops to those sweet potatoes you eat are harvested and super delicious especially with lots of garlic, of course!

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Sweet potato greens are not only delicious but are also very nutritious. Sweet potato greens are in the same category as spinach and are high in iron and beta carotene. Sweet potato greens are slightly sweet when sautéed with a little bit of garlic or used in soups or stir fries.  If you like a little heat in your dishes, then also add a little fresh chili for bit of kick. In Chinese medicine, it is believed that sweet potato greens improve immunity, promote metabolism, prevent ageing and is anti-cancer. Both of my boys just can't seem to get enough of this vegetable so if you see it in the market buy lots as it cooks down much like spinach.

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I want to share with you a recipe that is near and dear to all of Hong Kong and that is a dim sum recipe. Dim Sum which literally translates as "Touching the Heart" has been a core part of the Cantonese culture for decades. Dim Sum are various little Cantonese dishes made with love that fill your mouth, mind and soul with satisfaction.

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Dim Sum grew from a tradition along the ancient Silk Road in China. Farmers, labourers and travelers, weary from their efforts, stopped to rest in a roadside teahouse. The term “yum cha,” (飲茶) means to drink tea. It took many centuries for the custom to grow and develop and it was considered unhealthy to combine tea with food as it was thought to cause weight gain. Tea was a staple and was found to actually aid in the digestive process. It was then that the owners of the tea house began adding small snacks which became known as “Dim Sum”, to touch the heart, as a delicate snack with the tea.

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I am very aware that Asian products are difficult to find in Western Markets. So with this in mind, the only item is spring roll wrappers and I know that many of you can find these in the freezer section or in the Asian markets.  For this recipe, Sweet Potato green Purses, feel free to substitute spinach for the sweet potato greens and it is just as delightful.

In addition, for my gluten-free and cardiac friendly friends I made a modified version of this recipe using Chinese cabbage leaves instead of spring roll wrappers and steaming only instead of pan frying.

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This recipe is very easy even for the beginner dim sum chef and makes an impressive starter or dim sum course for a dinner party. You do not need a fancy bamboo steaming basket. All you need is a pan with a lid and you are in business. So let's get started with the recipe...

LESS THAN 30 MINUTE DINNERS

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Sweet Potato Green Purses

By HWC Magazine  , , ,   

July 14, 2014

  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yields: 16 appetizers or just enough for one hungry teenager

Ingredients

Sweet Potato Green Purses

ground pork - 1/2 pound

shrimp - 1/4 pound (deveined, tail removed, washed and chopped finely)

tofu - 1/4 cup soft

garlic chives - 2-3 finely chopped

garlic - 3 cloves minced

ginger - 1 teaspoon grated or finely minced

rice wine (shao xing) - 2 tablespoons (can substitute cooking sherry)

tamari (soy) sauce - 2 tablespoons

white pepper - 1/4 teaspoon

sesame oil - 1 teaspoon

canola oil - 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon

sweet potato greens (leaves) - 1/2 catty (or about 8 ounces or a really big handful- can use spinach as an alternative)

salt - to taste

spring roll rice papers (wrappers) - 16 or can use wonton wrappers for smaller purses

egg - 1 beaten

Dipping Sauce

tamari (soy) sauce - 1/4 cup

Chinese black rice dark vinegar - 2 teaspoons

ginger - 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated

Directions

1Mix ground pork, shrimp, tofu, garlic chives, 2 chopped cloves of garlic (save one of the chopped garlic to cook the sweet potato greens) ginger, shaoxing wine, soy sauce, white pepper, sesame oil in a bowl and mix well. Ser aside.Remove your frozen wontons from the freezer, as they need about 10 minutes to defrost.

2In a wok add 1 teaspoon of oil, and chopped garlic and stir-fry just until aromatic and then add the sweet potato greens and stir-fry just until leaves start to wilt and salt to taste. Remove from heat, cool and make sure you drain well by squeezing the excess moisture in your hands. Add the sweet potato greens to the pork/shrimp and tofu mixture and stir well.

3Place one wonton on your clean counter. Add about 1 tablespoon of pork/shrimp/tofu mixture in the center of the wonton. Brush your egg wash along the edges of the wonton. Fold the wonton diagonally into a triangle shape. Then with your fingers bring the edges up and around to make a purse shape. Please try to get rid all of the air so you have a tight little package.

4Add 1 tablespoon of oil into you wok or frying pan. Place your little sweet potato purses in wok/frying pan with the bottoms down first. Fry for about 2-3 minutes until bottom is golden brown. Then add a little bit of water about ¼ cup into wok/frying pan, cover, turn the heat down to a medium simmer and allow the sweet potato purses to lightly steam for about 12 minutes more.

5In a small pot steam the green onions just until lightly softened.Remove sweet potato purses from your pan and tie softened green onion around the purse and tie.

6Make the dipping sauce. Mix the soy sauce, Chinese vinegar and ginger together.

7Take a small bit out of the bottom of the sweet potato green purse and add a little spoonful of the dipping sauce on it and enjoy.

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  • shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com

    Oh wow – these dim sum are breathtakingly gorgeous! Most definitely “A little heaven on earth”! I have sweet potatoes growing in my backyard – I had no idea their greens were edible! Thanks Bam! The sweet potato greens are growing rampantly – and now I know what to do with them instead of discarding them like I was going to do!

    • Bams Kitchen

      Hi there Shashi! I had no idea either you could eat sweet potato leaves either. However, in Asia, nothing goes to waste. It is probably similar to Italy and the zucchini flower and the zucchini. If someone did not try to cook it with it one day, we would have no idea how delicious they were. Have a super week. Take Care, BAM

  • Eha

    I feel about an inch tall as I have had the current issue of VRAI in my files for a week without time to read . . . . congratulations on your wonderful article, Bobbi!! Had not picked it up as yet! Going over to read it properly now!! And I surely owe Danny de la Cruz [one of the editors] an apology also as I was oh so privileged to know about the magazine before its birth pangs awhile back . . . every issue has been so informative and enjoyable! And I do love the idea of your green purses, altho’ I shall have to use spinach by default. And I shall use wombok leaves and I shall steam!! [Well, I’ll end up trying both!] And I do love your artistry with the purple blooms 🙂 !

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thank so much Eha, I had a lot of fun writing this article for the VRAI magazine. It was fun to step back and look at the wet market, instead of a regular visitor, but from the eyes of a visitor that has entered the wet market for the first time. The VRAI Magazine is an informative and interesting delightful read and has everything from lifestyle, gardening travel and food. Danny and the VRAI team have done a wonderful job and can’t wait to read their next articles. Wombok (Chinese Cabbage leaves) are a great healthier alternative for these little dim sum purses) Have a super week and take care, BAM

  • Gorgeous, Bam! Your dim sum is nicer than a restaurant would serve! I would really enjoy trying the different vegetables you can find at the wet markets in Hong Kong. I’m off to check out your article in VRAI!

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thank you Sandra, you are so sweet. You would love the assortment of fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood and tofu would really make you delighted. However, first things first we need to get your sorted with an industrial strength Grandma bag. Take care, BAM

  • Oh my gosh – these look incredibly beautiful and impressive. Beyond looks, that filling and the dipping sauce – it all sounds like utterly delicious! I just went to dim sum yesterday and I can tell you I didn’t have anything nearly so beautiful. And I remember the wet markets in Hong Kong – I used to go with my mom and I remember sometimes stopping along and having some sweet tofu dessert soup…I think that’s how she got me to go there willingly.

  • These look delicious and I love how colorful they are. I couldn’t agree with you more that food is one of the best ways to learn about culture!

  • These look delicious and the presentation is beautiful!

  • Ooh, they look marvelous! I would love to have one right now…perhaps soon I have a chance to try out your recipe!

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

    I’ve never eaten them like this. We usually get the Thai ones and they’re called money bags here and they’re always deep fried. I love everything in these photos!

    • Bams Kitchen

      Wouldn’t that be marvelous if these little dim sum treats were stuffed with cold hard cash instead of potato greens. Check the little money bags next time you try them and let me know..They are traditionally deep fried but you know how I like to lighten everything up here on Bam’s Kitchen so we do a little steam and them a little pan sear to make it a little healthier.

  • These sound so good! I love the cabbage version.

  • kitchenriffs

    Congrats on the article! I find the “wet market” name so interesting and exotic. And I wish I had one close to me! But I can always make these swell purses — really fun recipe. Thanks.

  • Robyn

    Wow, Bobbi, you have outdone yourself in the presentation and photographs. I will make these because I’m dying to experience the flavour but I have no misconceptions of measuring up to the beauty of your dish, lol. Congrats on the article. I am truly thrilled for you – no one more deserving!

  • I am not just applauding you, I’m standing up cheering and whistling. I absolutely love dim sum but could never imagine the amount of work to prepare it, never mind the beautiful presentation. I could just sit there and eat this all day. You’ve really got me thinking that I should store up some energy and give this a try. I’m not sure that I could make them as pretty as you have but … Well, do you think a glue gun might help? Great job on the article!

  • Wow, those look crazy good!

  • Its been ages since I eaten some Sweet Potato greens, we used them a lot in soups. Its so hard to find those here in NZ

  • Oh these dim sum are breathtaking!
    Beautiful presentation and a gorgeous combination of flavors.
    I’m fortunate because here I can find all the necessary ingredients so this is on my to do list for next week.
    Looking forward to read your article, Bam.

  • I love these–what a creative dish! 🙂

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thanks Nancy!

  • What a wonderful article BAM, so impressive!! Oh, and those cute little packages are something else!

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thank you Dawn. I am delighted you liked the article. These little dim sum packages are so easy to make and kids love them. Take care, BAM

  • I did not know you could eat the leaves! I have an abundance of them in my garden so I am going to give them a try for sure 🙂

    • Bams Kitchen

      Just toss with a little olive oil and garlic and a little chili if you desire for a quick stirfry.

  • Perfectly made dim sum! These little parcels are adorable!

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thank you Katerina. These sweet poato green purses are so fun to make.

  • Purses indeed, they are just as elegant as any beautiful designer bag – and more edible and delicious 😀
    Beautiful job!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thanks CCU!Maybe these might be the new Coach or Gucci fashion trend next fall.

  • Hi Bam, Congratulations! what a wonderful article!!! love these little purses, they look so elegant, my you are such a great cook!

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thank you Cheri for your for sweet comment. I am glad you like the article. This recipe is really easy. The hardest part is tying those little spring onions around the purses without your reader glasses on. Take care, BAM

  • These little parcels look wonderful – pack a punch of flavor & so pretty to serve!

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thank you. I love them as they are a little bit crunchy on the outside but moist and delicious on the inside.

  • Oh, my gosh, all your varieties of dims sum look delectable!!! From healthy to fried, I’d love to try them all!

    • Bams Kitchen

      Hello Liz! I agree a tasting of many different kinds of dim sum is the only way to go. Thanks so much.

  • I love the sweet potatoes leaves, and you sure now how to make them even more delicious…I love the little purses…you mastered it. Thank you for the inspiration Bobbi…
    Enjoy the rest of your week 😀

  • I am a dim sum fanatic. Luckily Denver has a few good places but nothing like what Manservant used to eat in China. These sweet potato greens resemble the sweet potato annual vines that I use in my outdoor pots. I use burgundy ones but they are shaped the same. Not that I would eat them without knowing. It is fun writing articles, I bet. I am a farmstand girl for sure, so I would go crazy in these markets. In fact when I travel, I always seek them out, but am always bummed, because then I never have a kitchen to cook in!

  • These are gorgeous! I think Norma Chang grows sweet potato greens and has featured them on her blog. I’ve not seen them here. Love how you recommend taking a little bite out of the purse and then adding sauce…that’s how I eat steamed dumplings! 🙂

  • The (Gluten-Free!) Food Gurly

    These are really pretty, Bobbi! Those sweet potato plants are gorgeous! 🙂

  • Nice, but I’ve never seen a sweet potato green…now I am curious! Loved the article!

    • Bams Kitchen

      Thank you Tonette. I am glad you enjoyed the article. In the States we usually do not see the sweet potato leaves as they only sell the sweet potato, unless you grow your own. You can exchange spinach in this recipe for the sweet potato greens. Take Care, BAM

  • What a delicious and gorgeous post!!! Wish they served jewels like this at the dim sum I frequent. I would love to bite into one these. Sweet potato greens – very interesting.

  • I love Dim Sum but always thought it was too daunting to make myself. But you say a beginner can do it, and you certainly make it look easy. Recipe looks Yummy!

  • These are just too beautiful!!!

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