White yam (Dioscorea alata) and African white yam (D. rotundata) are similar, but the first cooks to a somewhat softer and moister texture than the starchier, waxier African. Although results are as unpredictable as everything else about yams, boiled and steamed yams are similar to each other. Cooked properly, white yam can be surprisingly light (particularly D. alata)—almost as if air had been whipped in.
Through some culinary alchemy, yams that have been halved but not peeled cook to a creamier and lighter texture (some even fluff up to double in volume) than yams left whole or halved and peeled.
Boiled or steamed white yams have a flavor that is mild and easygoing, not exciting or dull. Serve with spicy sauces, gravy, meat juices, or one of the suggested toppings.