Belacan Yam Leaf (Sweet Potato Leaf) Recipe
September 22nd, 2007 41 Comments

Belacan Yam Leaf (Sweet Potato Leaf) Recipe

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Recipe: Stir-fried Yam Leaf (Sweet Potato Leaf) with Belacan (Shrimp Paste)


1 box of yam leaf (approximately 0.8 lb)
1 tablespoon of belacan/shrimp paste
2 red bird’s eye chilies or 1 regular red chili (remove seeds and thinly cut)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon roasted chili paste
1 tablespoon dried shrimp
A few dashes fish sauce

Roasted Chili Paste:

A handful of dried chilies
2 tablespoon of cooking oil


Grind the dried chilies and cooking oil in a blender. Add a little water while blending.

Heat the wok, pour some cooking oil and stir-fry the chili paste for about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Soak the dried shrimp in warm water for 10 minutes, then coarsely pound them using mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Cut the stems of the yam leaf. Keep only the tender part of the stems. Rinse with cold water and then set aside.

Fire up the wok to HIGH heat and add the cooking oil. Wait till smoke comes out from the wok then add in the chopped garlic. Do a quick stir, add in the belacan, dried shrimp, and roasted chili paste and continue stirring. As soon as you smell the pungent aroma of belacan, toss in the yam leaf. Stir continuously until the leaves started to wilt. Add in a few dashes of fish sauce, continue stirring (make sure the color of the vegetable remains green). Dish up and serve hot.

Cook’s notes:

In the US, sweet potato leaf (蕃薯叶) is marketed as yam leaf.
If you use water spinach, the recipe works the same.
Dried shrimps should complement the belacan instead of competing with it, so you don’t want to use too much of them.

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41 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Anonymous says:

    Only you could make shrimp paste look so completely divine – gorgeous photos!

    Ari (Baking and Books)

  2. Amy says:

    This comment has been removed because it linked to malicious content. Learn more.

  3. East Meets West Kitchen says:

    That is the cutest belacan scoops I’ve ever seen! Great pics!

  4. Mandy says:

    At first glance, I thought the shrimp paste was yam flavor ice-cream! ;p

    I love anything with belachan, but don’t use it often because of the smell that lingers long after the meal is done.

  5. Andaliman says:

    I had blanched yam leaves with samba lado mudo once instead of using cooked cassava leaves, since I can’t find fresh cassava leaves. It turned really good. I should try your recipe one day

  6. K & S says:

    love your photos!

  7. Tracy Tan says:

    i am also malaysian now living in china. i had some stir fried vege with belacan yesterday at a singaporean restaurant cooked by a malaysian chef and it was a taste of home!

    i hope to try out your recipe at home when i feel like a taste of malaysia :)

  8. Lucy says:

    Wow, was wondering when you were gonna get to this dish. It’s my all-time fav vege dish to order when I eat out. Will need to try making this soon. Only you can make the yam leaf look so appetizing. Well done!

  9. bayi says:

    The finished product looks superbly delicious. But would the vegetable be sweet potato leaves instead of yam leaves?

    I have eaten the former and the dish is superb.

  10. zlamushka says:

    Hi Rasa,

    very nice recipe. I use exactly the same one, but instead of shrimp paste, I add oyster sauce, I think that is the Thai style…

  11. IronEaters says:

    this vege is my all time favourite!but didn’t see them around here in Melbourne though. remember my grandma used to plant it around her house, n whenever we visited her, she would pick some yam leaf and cooked for us *how fresh!!*. miss those times =)

  12. tigerfish says:

    You can seriously consider some belacan ice-cream! It is IT! :D

    I also like this dish a lot. Best to do at home since the restaurants typically charge US$8-9 for it, and I bet it’s worth to do it at home, WITH the stinkyness.

  13. veron says:

    I wondered what was yam leaf – I thought it looked like kangkong (which is what we called it in the philippines) – then upon reading your post II guess it’s a substitute for Kangkong. Oh and with shrimp paste – this is exactly how I like it.

  14. team bsg says:

    here in Malaysia , this dish is a common order as much craved as the kangkong ! some people cannot tell da difference between the two, both so delicate and green

  15. babe_kl says:

    the shoots were even better huh? mmm yumyummm

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hi there,

    Scrumptious pics! Could you tell me where I can buy belachan in north California (San Jose)? I can’t find it at the local 99 Ranch. Thanks very much!


  17. Tummythoz says:

    This is one ingredient which will tell the neighbourhood what you’re cooking! Real adorable balls of belacan.

  18. joey says:

    YUM! We have a very similar dish here and I love it! Simple but so very tasty :) We use bagoong which is our local shrimp paste, and kangkong (water spinach) :) Something in common! :)

  19. sc says:

    a simple yet delectable dish..thanks for sharing, RM :)

  20. Lemongrass says:


  21. Laurent says:

    I love stir fried greens, spinach and swiss chards in particular. But I knew about neither yam leaves nor Belacan. Looks like an interesting combination. I’ll try it when I have a chance. Thanks for the recipe and the beautiful picture.

  22. Y3K food & travel says:

    Hi Bee Yinn,

    Like your blog very much. Good photos, good layout, and good recipes too.

    I would like to share some cooking tips for your consideration when preparing food using belachan.

    Toast belachan over direct fire till aromatic, then dissolve it in some water into a paste. This will bring out the taste of belachan.

    Another way is to toast it in a dry clean wok till powder form. Do this just before cooking, not in advance.



  23. Rasa Malaysia says:

    Ari, Amy, East Meets West Kitchen, Mandy – Thanks. Yeah, I tried to trick people in believing that those scoops are ice cream! Hehe.

    Andaliman – cassava leaves? What are those?

    K & S – Thanks.

    Tracy – Yeah, you can try my recipe at home, just make sure you “smuggle” some belacan into China the next time. I am not sure if you could get it in China or not.

    Lucy – I checked out your blog, it’s fanstastic. Love the dishes you cook.

    Bayi – yam leaf = sweet potato leaf. Sweet potato is marketed as yam here in the US, and yam is called taro here. Don’t ask me why. Hehe.

    Zlamushka – that’s probably Chinese style if oyster sauce is used, but yeah, Thailand has the same dish too.

    Ironeaters – yep…just pluck from the garden and cook it…I miss those days too, but lucky I can get them here in California.

    Tiga – You know, if shrimp paste is ever on Iron Chef, I am sure one of the iron chefs will definitely make it into an ice cream. LOL!

    Veron – wow, I didn’t know that kangkung is called kangkong in Tagalog. It looks like we share some similar words…no wonder I always thought I can undertand Tagalog (from the sound of it) but when I paid attention, I can’t. Hehe.

    BSG – I agree, they taste similar. In fact, I prefer sweet potato leaf.

    Babe – yummy yes.

    Jasmine – you should be able to find belacan at the R99. It’s probably not made in Malaysia, but you can get the ones made in PH or made in Thailand.

    Tummy – yep, it’s a loud statement to my neighbors…but they probably think I have a dead animal in the house.

    Joey – I didn’t know that PH has a similar dish. Thanks for telling me. Quick quick make a dish for me to see. :)

    SC – You’re always welcome…no need to thanks. :)

    Lemongrass – :)

    Laurent – thank you.

  24. Dalicia says:

    my first time here! i live in the west coast. i remembered when my uncle told me he cooked belachan in his apt in UK. the neighbors thought there was a dead rat!!

    will dropby again

  25. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic webpage! I’ve been looking for a great Malaysia food blog. I’m bookmarking it, and thanks for visiting my site.

    - Evil Jungle Prince

  26. Kate says:

    i dont think i’m a big fan of belacan paste but they sure do look very nice in your picture !

  27. Cynthia says:

    I have Thai shrimp paste that I bought and used recently to make a sambal I saw on Eating Asia blog. Recently I’d been feeling that I’m neglecting using my shrimp paste for other things but now I see you use it and stir-frying veggies, I am so going to start using it that way when I’m cooking my veggies, which happens regularly.

  28. Nate 2.0 says:

    I don’t care what anyone else says about belacan, I love it. Kankung belacan is always one of the dishes I order whenever we eat out at a Malaysian restaurant. But yam leaves / sweet potato leaves are a little less chewy / fibrous. The best choy over all would be Sabah choy but it’s so hard to find, even in M’sia.

    I’ve seen belacan at the Ranch 99 in the aisle where they have all the Indonesian condiments. Or you could use Chinese harm-ha for an approximate flavor.

  29. Hakka House says:

    This is one of my favorite veggie dish that grandma makes. I love it =) Brings back memories.


  30. cooknengr says:

    Awesome, picture perfect down-home Kampung vegetable. btw, no Okra nor Mani chai this season, three rows of special breed okra was attacked by bad bunnies in one night and I only manage to harvest a spoonful of Mani chai before the cold season kicks in….but the spoonful of mani chai tasted so good with a little egg and 江魚仔.

  31. Meg Wolff says:

    This looks very delicious…and creative.

  32. Jade says:

    Love the first photo in this post – the green is just eye-popping! Looks like veggie candy :)

  33. Deborah says:

    I was so excited to come across your blog and it brought back fond memories of all the foods back from Malaysia. You have excellent pictures and I just love your recipes and since I don’t really know how to cook, your recipes come in handy.

  34. jennee says:

    Hello. I stumble upon your web page when I am looking for nyonya PERUT IKAN curry recipe. I am hoping to able to cook it. Finding that lengkalok leaf is big task in KL, Malaysia. Wonder how u find in in US ? arent you based in US now ?
    I browse thru your website & love all your food photographs. They so beautifully delicious. U r good at it.

    Jen Nee, KL

  35. Anonymous says:

    I am so excited to learn that you can use the patato leaf to make a healthy meal. Thanks a lot for your blog it is very handy.

    Nelle, Caribbean

  36. Ahmad says:

    I miss having yam leaves with belacan. I just bought some belacan and will use your yam leaves with belacan recipe.

  37. We always order kangkung belacan in the restaurants and finally made it ourselves. We used this recipe and our kangkung belacan turned out great! Thanks for the recipe!

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  40. Ellie says:

    Looks so yummy. If yours comes out a bit salty, I recommend drizzling it with few drops of lemon.

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