Hello, it’s week 2 of Ub-session ? Last week, I made sweet treats, but this time, I wanted to do something different with the ube that not a lot of people explore. Looking for savory ube recipes was short of impossible for 2 main reasons.
First, though we may translate our ube to “purple yam” in English, the Philippine ube is not the same as the purple yams available in the US, like Stokes Purple or Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. Ube skin is very thick and looks like wood from the bark of a tree. The only way I could peel it easily was to slice it off with a knife. Also, raw ube is wet and sticky, while the other variants of sweet potatoes are dry.
Second, because our ube is unlike the other root crops, and Filipinos mainly use it in sweets and desserts, it was a challenge to find recipes that weren’t for halaya, cake, or donuts. So what I did was think about what I wanted to eat instead, then searched for purple yam or sweet potato recipes that I could just substitute with ube.
One of the things I knew I was going to try right off the bat was making these into chips. I grew up snacking on kamote and cassava chips for merienda, and I figured any similar root crop would work just the same. The narrowest portion of the ube was the tip, so I chopped it off, peeled it, and ran it through a mandolin. I remembered that soaking in cold water made for crispier chips, so I did that, then added rosemary lemon salt to double as a brine. (These salts from Obra were given as a gift a year ago, but they’re nowhere to be found online now. So strange!)
After about 30 minutes, I noticed that the purple was seeping out of the ube, so I figured that was enough time. ? I drained it, got my oil very hot (if it isn’t, the chip will absorb it), then started frying. It only took a couple of seconds before they became translucent and started browning at the edges (oops) so I flipped them quickly.
The brine made it so I didn’t have to salt them after frying, because they were already flavorful. They were so pretty, like purple parchment or the petals of a silk rose. This photo, taken under the fluorescent lights of our kitchen, just didn’t do them justice. I tried taking a photo of them under natural light, and they were ever so slightly more photogenic.
What I would’ve done differently: perhaps not used the mandolin. They were so thin that the edges burned too fast, but I won’t compromise the heat of the oil. Just maybe a slightly thicker cut would’ve prevented that, but then I wouldn’t have these translucent purple beauties. Taste wise, the browned chips don’t taste burnt, so it’s a purely aesthetic consideration. Unless anyone has any tips on lessening the browning?
My favorite soups are pumpkin and tomato, and the former has a texture comparable to ube, so I hoped it would be doable. This recipe for a Purple Sweet Potato Soup was what I based mine off of, but I omitted and added ingredients to my liking, as well as worked with completely different ratios. This is what I ended up using on my recipe:
300 g roasted ube
olive oil for sauteeing
1 small red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tbsp cumin
1/4 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of salt
1 c chicken broth
I followed their basic procedure, but from habit, I minced my garlic with the salt to make it stick less to the knife. I was afraid I was going to end up with a brown soup, because the cumin was very dark after sauteeing, but once I turned on the processor, the ube liquified and its color took over everything.
I could tell that Ryan didn’t expect it to taste like it did, but as soon as he put the spoon to his mouth, his eyes widened and he said “Wow.” It was thick, warm, and reminiscent of comfort food during Thanksgiving (ay? naki-Thanksgiving? ?) It’s sweater weather food, but it tasted just as good in our tropics.
Attracted by this recipe from Kitchen of Eatin’, I tried to make my own ube-mushroom salad. This was the easiest thing I made with ube throughout this whole experiment: it’s literally just chopping, mixing, and throwing in the oven.
The things I did differently were using canned button mushrooms instead of cremini (I cook like a bachelor), making smaller cubes because Philippine ube is tougher than purple sweet potatoes, I had no fresh rosemary on hand so I used rosemary lemon salt, and tripled the garlic. ? I cut some of the mushrooms in half and left the others whole, for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I put the seasoning and aromatics with the oil and let it sit for a minute before hand mixing with the ube. When I felt like everything was evenly coated in the fragrant oil, I spread them out on a tray in the oven. The smell that wafted out of the oven was heavenly.
I had this for brunch on Friday, and I was full until evening! The author of the recipe was right when she said this makes a great side dish, but I think it can also stand on its own as a healthy, veggie main.
A variation to this salad can be made by adding Indian spices, similar to this recipe. I didn’t have many of the ingredients and ended up doing this instead:
200 g ube, cubed and roasted in garlic and olive oil as above
1 small red onion
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
Notice how it has most of the same things as in my lovely soup? This also reminds me of a recipe for lentils that I really liked before, so I guess I gravitate toward things I’m used to. This went well with my steak at lunch.
Last but not the least, dessert! From week 1, this coconut ice cream recipe has been in the kitchen lineup upon the recommendation of Macy. It kept getting pushed back because I didn’t have any coconut cream at home. Once I got my hands on them, it was super easy to prepare. The only things I did differently were using a tad more ube, roughly 300 grams, I didn’t freeze my bowl, and I put it in the food processor before freezing.
I’m out of ube, so that concludes this uber-yummy experiment. (See what I did there??) I had so much fun trying all the recipes and making some of my own. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind having all of them again because they all turned out so wonderfully.
I was able to make an appetizer, sweet and salty snacks, a soup, a salad, a side dish, and a dessert! Who knew the ube was so versatile? It’s been stereotyped as a sweet ingredient for way too long and it’s really too bad, because there’s so much more to it than that.
If anyone is interested in making any of these, l’d love to chat and compare notes.