Monday, December 17, 2007

PURPLE sweet potatoes!

I'm a little behind with blogging so the initial rush of cutting into a sweet potato and discovering the insides are purple has passed but I can't pass up a chance to obsess about something new: Okinawan sweet potatoes!

I like sweet potatoes. And nonsweet potatoes too. But I especially like sweet potatoes. Besides the obvious (fantastic taste), one reason I love sweet potatoes is that they're used to make one of my favorite dishes, fried sesame balls stuffed with red bean paste (or black bean paste, or nutella or whatever you'd like to stuff them with). The recipe I use mixes mashed sweet potatoes with glutinous rice flour and hot water to form a dough that is then filled with red bean paste, rolled in sesame seeds and deep fried. Maybe they don't even use sweet potatoes in restaurants, they just use glutinous rice flour; I've seen recipes like that. But I'm convinced that sweet potatoes or yams are vital for making them because I like sweet potatoes. Yes that was a circle.

At any rate, a while ago now, I finally visited the Filipino grocery in the large strip mall across the street from the larger strip mall where I'd been working the past four years. In between chatting with the owner about her daughters and how she really thinks the younger should go straight into graduate school and how she worries the older is running out of time to find a man now that she's an ancient 29, in between laments and worries, I picked up a bunch of sweet potatoes to make sesame balls for my gluten-free old man of 30.

Of course, I got busy doing this and that, mostly that, some this, and no sesame balls were made before Thanksgiving. My mom was worried about a shortage of Thanksgiving food so she had me bring ingredients for a gluten free quiche down to Los Angeles where there are apparently no grocery stores and the few dozen that are near us are too scary to approach near to Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes mixed with butter and onions pressed down into a pie crust and pre-baked makes a darn good quiche crust, whether you eat gluten or not. And since I had some unused sweet potatoes hanging around and getting old, I brought them down along with a couple newly bought russets. They all enjoyed the drive but didn't get eaten as there was no food shortage so back to Davis they traveled.

By this time, the sweet potatoes were almost as ancient as the storekeeper's unmarried daughter, so it was time to do something with them. I decided on gnocchi because I like gnocchi. (I like many foods.) I still had no inkling that these were not your everyday sweet potato until I cut into one.

The skin outside was normal pale tan sweet potato but instead of creamy white, the inside flesh was a definite purple. Now I like purple. Almost as much as sweet potatoes. And I've enjoyed regular purple potatoes before, purple skin and all. But sweet purple flesh hiding behind a pale skin?

Purple gnocchi it was then. I chopped the potatoes into cubes and boiled them. The water turned a deep green-blue, and the cut sides of the potatoes turned dark blue.
The unexposed parts of the potatoes were still a deep purple and mixed with some of their russet traveling companions, they formed a nice lavender mashed potatoes.
The gnocchi turned out tasty if not photogenic. I still haven't quite figured out how to make gnocchi that isn't slightly slimy and globby looking when served from the boiler. Mine seems to do (i.e. look) better lightly warmed in butter the following day. But since I ended up with pounds of purple gnocchi batter, I used some to make pancakes. Quite pretty with salmon and jalapenos stir-fried with shitake mushrooms.

1 comment:

Little Paws Big Adventures said...

Wow! I sure miss your cooking. I wish you'd make a recipe book of all the rad things you're always cooking. And drop me a line one of these days, eh? I think I must have the wrong contact info for you because I haven't heard from you in months.