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15 July 2016

Sweet Potato Leaves Salad (Talbos ng Camote Salad)

For a kid with a distant relationship with vegetables, I always made an exception with talbos ng camote or sweet potato leaves (also called camote tops). That salad plate you see above gives me such fond memories of my childhood that by just looking at it, I get so nostalgic. How fun it had been for me gathering the leaves myself in our neighbor's big garden while searching for ladybugs to play with. Sometimes, I would also be handed a piece of sugarcane to munch on before crossing the road back home. It was a  playground and a candy shop in the middle of nature. Maybe that was the main reason why I loved this salad in the first place - because I used to gather the salad myself and it was my first independence of "food shopping" that my mom entrusted me with.

In most kitchens, the leaves are boiled, or sometimes blanched (dropped in boiling for a few seconds then transferred to an ice bath) before using the leaves in the salad. This way, you ensure that the leaves are cleansed well from any bacteria. Whereas it is also possible to treat them like how you treat other salad leaves.  You can eat the leaves raw if you wash them well with baking soda (or salt) and water, the best being the homegrown ones. 

I prefer my sweet potato leaves raw because I like them crunchy and also the nutrients remain intact when I eat them. Sweet potato leaves are rich in Vitamins A & C, fibers, iron, calcium, protein, folate , magnesium, and phosporus. Some people dress the salad with vinegar, and some with anchovy sauce which I prefer. This salad is typically Filipino and it goes very well with grilled or fried fish. I am sharing the recipe below but be free to adjust the quantities according to your taste. 

More Filipino Recipes:

Green Mango Salad 
Daikon & Tomato Salad  
Asian Mango, Cucumber and Spring Onion Salad with Fish Sauce  

Sweet Potato Leaves Salad (Talbos ng Camote Salad)

Serves 2
  • 1 bunch sweet potato leaves
  • 4 tablespoons anchovy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh calamansi or lemon juice
  • 1 small onion, sliced 
  • 2 big tomatoes, sliced
  1.  Pick the leaves by taking away the big, old leaves and the hard stems and keeping the softer stems and leaves.
  2. If eating the leaves raw, rinse them well under the faucet with running cold water then soak them in a mixture of water and baking soda for about 5 minutes. Rinse again then spin dry.
  3. If you are blanching them, bring a pot of water to a boil. Prepare a bowl with ice and water in the meantime. When the water boils, blanch the leaves for about 30 seconds, then transfer them to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain when they are not hot anymore then spin dry.
  4. In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by mixing the anchovy sauce and the lemon. Adjust the taste. 
  5. In a salad bowl, mix the sweet potato leaves, onions, tomatoes and the dressing.