Thursday, March 8, 2012

Alien Ingredient #20: Okinawa Sweet Potato

At long last I got a chance to work with Okinawa (aka Purple) sweet potatoes, without having to buy a 40# case. Okinawa sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are a sweet potato cultivar that has purple flesh and a light brown skin. Here you see one in the skin and one that I have peeled. I noticed right away that these purple sweet potatoes oxidize very quickly, where our orange sweet potatoes take a long time to oxidize.

The first thing I did was try a piece raw. Holy Sweet Potato Batman! They are hyper-sweet: as stevia is to cane sugar, purple sweets are to orange sweets. They are so sweet in fact that in the custard that I made from them, pictured below, I added no sweetener of any kind.

When these sweet potatoes cook, they don't lose their gorgeous deep purple coloring like so many purple vegetables do. In fact, the color deepens as it cooks. The mash I made from purple sweets looked amazing on a plate. I will also note that when I added duck eggs to my custard, the custard went from amazing purple to muddy purple, not the most appetizing of colors. I brought the color back in my custard with some food color. [Shh! Don't tell anyone!]

The other thing to know about Okinawa sweet potatoes is that they are just sweet potatoes and are drop-in replacements for orange sweet potatoes, albeit a bit sweeter.

Here you see a brûléed purple sweet potato custard, garnished with a sesame brittle and fresh jackfruit.

Vote: I like these very much but the sweetness restricts their savory applications more so than the standard orange sweet potatoes.

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