If you’re looking for an unexpected twist for your more common dessert confections, end your pastry quest with the bright, lavender yam, ube. Although its flavor and color are mostly used for sweeter dishes, ube—a true yam—has been known to be the prime feature in many a mixed vegetable casserole or egg roll variety.
With Malayo-Polynesian origins, and a frequent feature in Filipino dishes, world admirers of Southeast Asian culture and cooking from India to Japan will recognize ube’s name and application in both savory and sweet dishes. Most commonly noted, however, is ube’s dazzling range of purple colors and sweet taste in gourmet creations. Served cold, as a frosting or filling, or as the base to a cake, ube’s creative limitations are few when salivating over new dramatic recipes for tarts, filled rolls, flavored milks, jams, savory bakes, cookies, or ice cream.
Also known as...
• Purple yam
• Guyana Arrowroot
• Ten-Months Yam
• Water Yam
• Winged Yam
*Not to be confused with other dessert tubers, such as the Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato (which has a sweet flavor, dark lavender exterior, and bright purple flesh), or the Okinawan Sweet Potato (a different shade of purple, with a similar sweetened taste)
• Rich in Vitamins A & C
• Full of antioxidants and anthocyanin pigment
• Potassium-filled (great for replenishing electrolytes or regulating blood pressure)
• Folklore medicinal uses: anti-inflammatory, digestive aid
• Pair with coconut or cheeses for enhanced flavor
• Bake or boil ube before mashing for cooked dishes
Look for ube in your local Asian market. Even as ube gains popularity amongst Western cooks, other purple root vegetables are still commonly mislabeled with its name. Keep an eye out for ube’s bark-like skin as you shop.