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Ube: Coming to a Dessert Near You

Posted: 03/20/2017 03:51:00 PM
If you don’t already know about ube, that’s probably about to change. This type of yam, common in the Philippines and other Asian countries, is making its way into desserts in the U.S. and around the world.

Where does ube come from? What can you make it with it? And how is it being used in American desserts?

Here is a little bit about this delicious vegetable.

What is ube and where does it come from?

Ube, also called purple yam and a number of other names, is a species of yam. Its origins are in the Asian tropics and it’s usually bright lavender in color. Ube is sometimes confused with taro and the Okinawa sweet potato, although purple yam is also grown in Okinawa.

How is it eaten?

This brightly-colored vegetable is used in a wide range of desserts including ice cream, milk, tarts, cookies, cakes, and more.

In Maharashtra, India, purple yam is made into stir-fried chips that are eaten during religious fasting. It’s also used in undhiyu, a vegetable dish common in Surat, India. And in Sri Lanka, purple yam is a popular dessert in the city of Jaffna.

In the Philippines it’s called ube and it has long been a staple at Filipino potlucks. In Filipino cuisine, it’s often eaten boiled or in the form of ube halayá, a sweetened jam. Ube halayá is a popular ingredient in halo-halo, which is a dessert made with shaved ice, evaporated milk, and various other ingredients including boiled sweet beans, coconut, and more.

Ube’s voyage west...

It was only a matter of time before this unique, delicious veggie found its way to the U.S. Ube is being used to make truffles, donuts, and ube leche flan cupcakes. Want to see these American iterations of ube? Head to Manila Social Club in New York (particularly their famous Golden Cristal Donut) and Café 86 in Pasadena and Chino, California.

You can also find If you’re in Little Manila, New Jersey, you can find traditional Filipino desserts made with ube at Philippine Bread House and Red Ribbon Bakeshop.


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