You can microwave yams by washing any dirt off the skin of each yam, making a few puncture marks on both sides of each yam, and cooking them on a high setting for about 15 to 20 minutes on average. Cooking with yams in the microwave can often be a convenient alternative to baking them in the oven, an option that usually takes longer. A common basic recipe for microwave yams is similar to one for baked potatoes in the microwave; the skin is left on and the freshly-baked yams can be flavored with butter and salt. Yams are also known as sweet potatoes, and they are considered a healthier substitute for potatoes because they have less saturated fat and starch.
The average-sized yam is roughly the same diameter as the average potato, though many yams have a slightly longer and narrower shape. Big microwave yams generally need added minutes of cooking time. The total time in the microwave can also vary, depending on the appliance's power, as some microwaves have more wattage and higher temperatures than others. As with baked potatoes, an important step with microwave yams is to pierce the vegetables at least two or three times with a fork or small knife. This prevents pressure from building up inside the yams from the heat, causing them to split open or possibly explode.
Preparing yams for microwaving is a relatively easy process, though there are a few things to remember. A frequent problem concerning microwave yams is that the skin can sometimes shrivel under high temperature and become too dry, resulting in a tough and unpleasant texture. Many cooks find that wrapping each yam with a wet paper towel usually prevents this issue. The steam generated from the paper towels helps to lock moisture into the yam skin.
Alternative recipes call for peeling and slicing yams prior to microwaving. The yam pieces are then cooked until soft and flavored with various other ingredients. Some cooks like to add brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon to microwave yams, while others prefer spices such as curry or red pepper. Yams baked without skin can sometimes cook in less time and become too soft, so many cooks recommend checking the yam pieces at least once before the entire microwave time is complete. Tips for evenly-cooked yams include spacing them evenly apart in a microwave-safe dish and turning each one over roughly halfway through the microwave time.