|(L) Fresh roots of Dioscorea alata aka Purple Yam sliced to expose the purple flesh and (R) the cooked yams.|
"Ratulu" in India, "khoai mỡ" in Vietname, "Uhi" in Hawaii, "Ube (pronounced OO-beh)" in the Philippines....
Botanically: Dioscorea alata
This beautiful root crop is a very popular starch in the Philippines and I often craved it as it was the main ingredient in many of my favorite childhood snacks and desserts.
It has a lovely smooth texture, a stunningly beautiful flesh that's deep pink/violet when cut into raw and turns a smokey deep purple and has a wonderfully sweet, starchy flavor that's baked or roasted like a baked potato. It is also made into a sweet paste that's used to flavor cakes, sweet porridge, and added to make the infamous Halo-halo: a super sweet dessert consisting of fresh and preserved tropical fruits topped with shaved ice, ice cream, a dollop of ube, and condensed milk with sugar.
While it's kind of cold to have Halo-halo during the winter, I played around in the kitchen and came up with this pretty concoction integrating a little East/West influence in presentation.
|Ube topped with jackfruit and vanilla ice cream garnished with mint and sweet violet blossoms.|
A warm weather plant we can't really grow here in the Pacific Northwest, but it's quite vigorous and is actually invasive in parts of the Southeast. It's often a seasonal root vegetable available mostly during the fall and winter months so you don't often see it, but when you do, it's definitely worth trying!