Some tropical vegetables have a special place in the culinary world, and when they come with a unique physical trait, you cannot wait to try them.
Ube is one such food that will interest you and give your palate something new to relish.
It is the core ingredient for many purple-tinted food items on restaurant and café menus.
And as obscure as the name sounds, this purple yam has a Flipino origin and makes a significant part of their cuisines.
Now, what does Ube taste like, and what are the best ways to cook it? Let’s find out.
What is Ube?
If you know yam, the purple one specifically, you know what an Ube is.
It’s an alternate name for the purple tuber native to the Philippines.
Although a staple food for Filipinos, Ube is cultivated in many regions of the world today, and people enjoy it for its unique appearance and taste.
Its distinct color sets it apart from other yams.
But you can easily mistake it for sweet potato or taro when unsliced as it has a brown-grey skin.
They are available as fresh or frozen vegetables in markets and are versatile food that you can add to just about any dish.
This yam is not just a treat for your palate but is also high in antioxidants and lower blood pressure, making it a healthy tuber.
But the health benefits of Ube do not end here; it improves many core body functions.
What Does Ube Taste Like?
Ube is like sweet and starchy taro if you’ve never tried it before.
It has a potato-like texture when raw, but when cooked, its purple tint intensifies, and the flesh becomes moist and tender, similar to a custard texture.
If you try different-sized Ube, you will notice that the taste is slightly different.
Larger ones are sweeter than the smaller ones, making them suitable for many culinary uses.
Because of their sweetness, Ube can make great substitutes for some sweet potato dishes.
The two, however, do not taste alike because Ube has a more neutral taste and takes on the flavor of other ingredients used.
People often compare the sweetness of Ube to a mixture of pistachio, white chocolate, and vanilla.
This mild, mellow, and sweet taste is what makes it a favorite among Filipinos; anyone can find it suitable for their palate.
Despite its appealing looks, Ube contains toxic plant proteins, so you should never eat them raw.
Ensure that you always peel and cook them enough; if you do, you can get hold of all the nutritional benefits.
If you compare Ube to taro, you will find that the latter tastes nutty and starchier.
Both are packed with carbs, but Ube has lesser calories than taro.
Moreover, the pale lavender color of the taro makes it easily distinguishable.
Sometimes Ube can come as being too sweet, so it is often mixed with coconut milk or meat to make various foods.
How to Cook and Serve Ube?
Steaming and boiling are traditional cooking methods of Ube.
So here are some ways you can spice things up so you always have something to suit your palate any time of the day.
- Pastries/Dessert: This sweet and vibrant yam is a staple in many Filipino desserts. So it only makes sense that you should try this ethnic dish. It pairs well with grated coconut and makes a delicious and vibrant filling for pastries when made into a paste. .
- Bubble tea: There are bubble tea fans all around, so if you’re one (and have a sweet tooth), you must try Ube bubble tea. To do this, substitute the regular tapioca pearls for Ube pearls, and your tea will get a satisfying purple tint.
- Soup: A sweet, carb-rich Ube soup is a must for a chilly day. Think of it like a purple-tinted pumpkin soup (with a different taste) that keeps your eyes and palate active before a meal. You can make this soup by cooking the yam and other veggies in coconut milk and adding some crushed nuts as a garnish for an exciting texture. .
- Jam: Making jams with Ube will give you something sweet and vibrant to spread over fresh bread and cookies. It is easy to make, uses ingredients you probably have in your kitchen, and tastes deliciously addicting. It might just make everyone a sweet tooth with just a spoonful.
Like many foods, the purple yam native to the Philippines has gained much popularity with social media exposure.
And it’s for the best because everyone else can enjoy its deliciousness now.
You have to prepare Ube similarly to any other yam; peel and cook until tender.
Cooking extinguishes the toxins the yam has when it is raw and intensifies its taste and color.
This purple treat is a must-try among tropical veggies, and you should definitely try it if you ever find your local market selling one.
Or, settle for an Ube-flavored item at a café.