Monday, September 17, 2012

From pathetic to pretty... a tale of sweet potato

My obsession with sweet potato isn’t exactly secret… yesterday’s breakfast was porridge and sweet potato pancakes, today’s was porridge and a sweet potato smoothie. Ok, so maybe I also have an oats obsession (my love for this particular cereal grain may have been a critical determining factor when I decided to make the healthy breakfast cookies from Sweet Potato Soul).

At the same time I revealed my love of sweet potato, I told you that all attempts to grow sweet potatoes at the community garden had been thwarted by the epic soil they create there (this is the explanation my dad gives me anyway, true or otherwise). Not wanting to ruin this trend for fear of exposing his inability to grow sweet potatoes (of all the things not to be able to grow!!), Dad chose to ignore the expression “third time lucky” and instead proudly came home the other day to present me with these (placed next to a biro for the purpose of getting an idea of size):

The only possible way to cook these without losing all the flesh with peeling was to dry bake them. Fortunately, this is also my favourite method. Unfortunately, when I tried this the next morning, these pathetic little guys became even smaller…

Luckily I had a couple of kilos of purple skin (white flesh) sweet potatoes from the fruit and veg shop down the road which I baked at the same time. As much as I loved the pancakes and the smoothies I made with these, nothing beats fresh out of the oven with a dollop of nut butter. The white sweet potatoes are considerably sweeter than their orange counterparts, which are probably more suited to smoothies and baked goods where their flavours can be boosted with other add-ins like milk and honey.

There is also another variety that absolutely adore dry baked…  the purple sweet potatoes. Oh my goodness me!! One of my dear friends had a large area of purple sweet potato plants in her backyard from which she brought me one to try: it was absolutely glorious!!  I was so taken with this pretty purple root that I even instagram-ed it! Cos. That’s what people do these days, right?
Although there are quite a few different varieties of sweet potato with purple flesh, they are commonly known as Okinawan sweet potatoes, or beni imo. Coincidentally, the biro to which I was comparing the white sweet potatoes is also from Okinawa (from when my parents visited the islands about 20 years ago)! Learning that one of my favourite vegetables has its origins in Japan made me very excited but what made me even MORE excited was realising that I will be visiting there at the end of the year!! Inititally I was looking forward to trying the Okinawan cuisine (which is very different from mainland Japan’s) but now I think I will spend my time hunting down every possible sweet potato dish on the islands… 

I thought it would be nice to finish on that note and leave you with a chart of the common names of different cultivars of sweet potatoes… because I’m such a nerd and love displaying information in tables and whatnot :-)

California Gold
Japanese Purple
Carolina Ruby
Korean Purple
Gold Nugget

(Table from the George Mateljan Foundation website)

- Matilda


  1. Good luck growing the potato we gave you today! :-))

    1. In the ground... fingers crossed!! Thank you dear twins <3