The Ube

Today's post is about yet another food that's easy to find here in Hawaii, but fairly uncommon in mainland USA. The ube, or the purple yam.

We indirectly discovered this root vegetable when Laura ordered ube ice cream in a shop in Waimanalo. Ube is also a key ingredient in a wide range of Asian desserts and pastries, thanks largely to the fact that it naturally colors almost any food with a shockingly rich purple hue.

So when we stumbled onto a big bin of ube for sale in Honolulu's Chinatown a few days later, we knew we had to buy a couple.

We brought them home, boiled them up and ate them completely unseasoned, just to see what they tasted like. We were not disappointed. It was really good--it had the texture and consistency of a regular potato with the sweetness of a sweet potato.

One unusual byproduct of boiling up these ube: the leftover cooking water had a bizarre green tint to it.

Imagine using this for your next batch of vegetable stock, or even better, in a batch of delicious risotto! Just for fun, we used this broth to cook up a batch of pasta, and it gave the pasta a noticeable, if unappetizing, greenish tinge.

Finally, I spent some time looking around the internet for some interesting recipes that include ube--let me share four that look really good:

Ube Gnocchi at Burnt Lumpia
Ube Cupcakes at Recipezaar
Ube Balls at
Ube Purple Yam Two-Tone Bread at Angies Recipes

Related Posts:
How to Make Fried Rice
How to Make Pickled Eggs
Thai Pasta Salad
Austrian Cuisine: Viennese Potato Soup (Wiener Kartoffelsuppe)

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Janet said...

Dan: As far as Jerry and I can tell, the ube is the same purple yam that in Gujarati is called "Rotaru." It is very popular there. Try making it in a curry, similar spices to a potato curry....but much tastier!

It also makes a great bhajia (some call them pakoras; think of them as Indian tempura). You can buy pakora batter mix at the Indian food store (its made with chick pea flour..), slice the ube/rotaru about a half inch thick, dip in the batter, and deep fry. Serve with your favorite chutney....squeeze a little lime on top first. yum.....

Show up in Vegas some day and I'll make you some :-) (assuming you bring the ube...they are hard to find in non-tropical climates...)

BTW, Jerry's long-time dream for retirement is to move somewhere tropical and start a rotaru farm...

Daniel said...

Thanks for your thoughts Janet! This is great information. And I like the sound of Jerry's dream--I'll be the first in line to help him run the farm!


Nancy/n.o.e said...

I got some purple sweet potatoes in my farm box order, but I'm not sure if they're ubes or just a purple sweet potato? I used them like a regular yam and enjoyed them tremendously.

memorandis said...

That's a picture of an Okinawan sweet potato, which is a completely different vegetable.