August 2, 2022

Salt-Baked Yam Tacos (Yacos!)

Recipe: Alice Zaslavsky

“Presented for your consideration, the best plant-based taco, possibly ever? Roasting yams – oca, jicama, youlk or whatever you can find – on salt draws water out and intensifies the texture and flavor, so what you’re left with is the chew of chicken, with the lightness of fish. If you’re not in the mood to taco ‘bout it, turn this dish into a salad by omitting the tortillas and mozzarella and tossing everything together in a bowl instead.” – Alice Zaslavsky


  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) rock salt
  • 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) jicama or yam of choice
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems and leaves finely chopped
  • 4 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 3 long green chilis, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lime, plus extra wedges to serve
  • 18 small tortillas
  • 200 g (7 oz) vegan or mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander shaved red cabbage, to serve
  • watercress sprigs, to serve


Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the salt in a roasting pan, in a thick layer. Add the yams, pressing them into the salt. Bake for 1 hour, or until fork-tender.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the cilantro, green onion, chili, garlic and lemon and lime juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. When the yams are cooked, remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and chop into small bite-sized pieces.
  4. When ready to serve, place the tortillas on three baking trays and arrange the cheese slices on top. Sprinkle with the paprika and bake for 3 minutes, or until the cheese is just melting. Smear the cheese with the back of a spoon.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the ground coriander and cook briefly, until aromatic. Add the yams and toss to warm through. Stir through the fresh cilantro and chili mixture, then use to top the tortillas.
  6. Sprinkle with cabbage and watercress and serve immediately, with lime wedges.

Tip Yams are a fantastic source of the prebiotic fiber inulin, feeding the good bacteria in your gut. Inulin is great for our guts in the long term, but can wreak gaseous havoc in the short term, especially if the yams are particularly fresh. If you’re the sort of person whose bowels move with ease, it might be worth delaying the gratification on this dish and soaking your chosen yam overnight.


Ben Dearnley


Excerpted from In Praise of Veg: The Ultimate Cookbook for Vegetable Lovers by Alice Zaslavsky. Text Copyright © 2022 Alice Zaslavsky. Design and Illustrations Copyright © 2022 by Murdoch Books. Photography Copyright © 2022 by Ben Dearnley. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.