Description: Food Network Kitchen's Asaro (Yam Porridge). Keywords: Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic, Habanero, Zomi Red Palm Oil, Ground Crayfish, Dried Herring, West African Yam, Japanese Sweet Potatoes
Recipe courtesy of Gabi Odebode for Food Network Kitchen


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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 55 min
  • Active: 55 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Yam porridge is comforting and filling and particularly welcome in the cooler months. Growing up in Ghana, I knew this savory dish as mpoto mpoto, and later came to know it as asaro, its Nigerian name. The porridge can be prepared in different ways. My family in Ghana started with a spice-infused meat broth, cooked the yam in that and then mashed it and finished it with palm oil. This recipe, however, starts by making a stew of tomato and bell pepper to cook the yam in, then mashes it to thicken the porridge. I learned this preparation from the Nigerian community after I immigrated to the United States and I prefer it for its robust flavor and bright reddish-orange color. West African yam is traditionally used in this dish, but I like to add some Japanese sweet potatoes for more sweetness. Serve the asaro by itself, or with meat or plantains.



  1. Puree the bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic and habanero if using in a blender or food processor.
  2. Heat the palm oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the vegetable puree. Cover, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the herring, crayfish, bouillon and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; the stew should thicken a bit.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the yams and potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a colander and rinse under cold running water.
  4. Stir the potatoes and yams into the stew and cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth; the stew will be thin and soupy. Simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes and yam are fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Use a potato masher to mash about 80 percent (not all) of the yam and potato into the broth so you have a thick porridge with some chunks. Stir and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes for the flavors and textures to blend.
  6. Taste the stew and add more salt if needed. Sprinkle with scallions.

Cook’s Note

If you prefer to make the porridge without the Japanese sweet potatoes, use 2 pounds of West African yams instead of 1 pound. You can also substitute any other variety of sweet potato you like.