People ask what my favorite dessert is and I always say Okinawan sweet potatoes – I always get a blank response! I am so weirded out by how so very few people know about it when I absolutely love it!
My aunt used to make it for me all the time when I was a kid. Even when I started going to the university, she would always make sure there’s one in the house for me when I get home during semester breaks. Because I absolutely love it, I am going to teach you how to cook Okinawan sweet potato.
What is an Okinawan Sweet Potato?
An Okinawan sweet potato is a root crop just like regular potatoes. It is most popular in Asian countries, though here in the US, it is better known as the Hawaiian sweet potato. Others would call it the purple yam, and of course, since it is very popular Japan, they call it the Japanese sweet potato.
It is very funny, really, because you will never really know what it is unless you figure out what the person you are talking to might know it as. You may even be talking about the same thing without even realizing it!
Okinawan sweet poatoes are new
This Okinawan sweet potato was never really known in the US until the early years of 2000 when it started being available in the market. Just like what I mentioned earlier, this root crop loves the tropics.
It thrives in warm, sunny conditions with a more consistent temperature which so unlike the four seasons commonly experienced here in the states. Fortunately, producing Okinawan sweet potatoes here in the country is possible, thanks to states like Florida and California with their really awesome climates which are just about perfect for this potato variety.
We have an old water well in the country, and these Okinawan sweet potatoes are like vines climbing all over that well. My aunt said she dumped some of this crop there a long time ago and it just started growing and propagating from there, said she never really had the heart to dig them out, though. It is actually a very amazing sight which is not only very aesthetically beautiful, but also very delicious.
In appearance, these sweet potatoes look almost just like a regular potato. It has yellowish to brown skin which can be very deceiving. Just by looking at the fruit, you would think it is ridiculous to call it the purple sweet potato.
However, the moment you get rid of the outer skin, you will find a rich purple flesh that gives it namesake. With this sweet potatoes, you really shouldn’t judge it by its cover.
However, if you run into the really dark skinned ones that are almost reddish violet in color, then you are definitely in for a treat as this variety is one of the best ones to have.
Growing Your Own Okinawan Sweet Potato
Getting a plant can be a bit tricky since it is patented by Stokes Purple who initially introduced it to the US market in 2003. Realistically speaking, however, finding online sellers who are growing their own from the crop itself is fairly easy.
Just try to visit popular market places like the one I have just provided and you will see a lot who can sell you started seeds for your yard. These Okinawan sweet potatoes are also quite easy to grow.
Just give them room to grow, plenty of water and plenty of sun and they should be fine on their own. If you are new to gardening, it is best to do some research on growing and propagating Okinawan sweet potatoes before getting a head start. Being a country girl, what may be easy for me may not be exactly easy for everyone else.
Yummy and Healthy!
Aside from the obvious yumminess, which I have already been gushing about on the onset of this article, Okinawan sweet potatoes are very, very healthy. And no, that is not an exaggeration and I am not just being biased because it is my favorite.
Note that not everyone considers it a dessert, but an actual meal. When I give you my favorite recipe for this later and you have tasted it, you will agree that is one of the best desserts, ever.
Okinawan sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanins which is a form of proteins and compounds rarely found in most foods but can only be found in purple colored plants like blueberries and other grapes with a purple color.
The best thing about anthocyanins are they are very good for our blood vessels and arteries, which means having these sweet potatoes in your regular diet entails that you get to maintain superb blood circulation. Improved blood circulation means you have better brain functions and a much healthier heart.
They are also rich in Vitamin A which is good both for your brain and your eyesight, while it helps to boost your immune system by giving you a healthy dose of vitamin C. It is also awesome for your digestive because it is very rich in fibers.
Fibers can help you maintain your weight, not to mention lowering the risks of constipation and colon cancer, as well as any other disease that may be associated with an unhealthy digestive tract.
How to Cook and Eat Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
Okinawan sweet potatoes, just like its name, is sweet. It makes an awesome snack and even an awesome meal. There are so many ways to eat them and here, I will be giving you the recipes I love the most that uses this awesome crop.
Buttered Boiled Okinawan Sweet Potatoes with Cheese Recipe
Don’t be confused with the name, it is really buttered and boiled. You are probably thinking that this is a useless recipe but I will be teaching you how to make it with a twist that can your buttered and boiled Okinawan sweet potato very delicious, and a good substitute for dinner!
What you will need
- 1 Large Okinawan Sweet Potato
- ½ cup of grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup of butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a pot, boil three cups of water.
- Wash the Okinawan sweet potato thoroughly without peeling and add to the boiling pot of water, then cover. Leave it in low heat for about 45 minutes. This will make sure that these sweet potatoes are very, very soft.
- Pull out the Okinawan sweet potatoe from the pot, into a large bowl.
- Using a meat tenderizer, mash the Okinawan sweet potatoes thoroughly. Make sure you do this quickly while it is still fresh from the pot.
- Add all of the butter and cheese, with the salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix everything thoroughly. Everything should mix together very well as long as you make sure you these steps quickly.
- Voila! You are ready to serve.
I love the contrasting saltiness of the ingredients against the natural sweetness of the Okinawan sweet potatoes. It is definitely one of my too lazy to cook favorite recipes.
Grilled Okinawan Sweet Potato
This one doesn’t really need a lot of instructions. Just put it in a thick barbeque stick and grill in the campfire which makes awesome camping food.
You can eat it as is or you can add a dash of salt and a coating of butter. But definitely one of the best food to eat while on camp.
Okinawan Sweet Potato Ice cream
Ah huh, these Okinawan sweet potatoes makes really awesome ice cream. It has a rich creamy taste that is very unlike regular potatoes.
It is definitely something you need to try if you have never had it before. Simply use your favorite ice cream recipe or sweet potato ice cream recipe to make one yourself.
You can also try my method of simply boiling my Okinawan sweet potatoes, add milk, sugar and blend. Once creamy, it put it in the freezer for a yummy midnight dessert.
My, oh so simple life. You can also try watching some tutorial videos and because of the lovely color of this crop, it is definitely an eye candy just to watch.
Okinawan Sweet Potato Rice Cake Recipe
On to my absolute favorite recipe. It is definitely my all-time favorite dessert and will always be my preferred Okinawan sweet potato dish.
What you will need
- 1 Large Okinawan sweet potato
- 2 cups of condensed milk
- 2 cups evaporated milk
- 1 ½ cup of brown sugar
- 1 cup of glutinous rice flour
- 200g butter
- Boil Okinawan sweet potatoes in a large pot for about 45 minutes. Keep it covered.
- Take the Okinawan sweet potatoes out of the pot and let it cool.
- Now, peel the Okinawan sweet potatoes and mash it thoroughly. Make your life simple and easy, use a food grinder.
- Transfer all of your mashed Okinawan sweet potatoes onto a food mixer and add all the other ingredients except butter.
- Once you have mixed everything very well, heat a deep pan on the stove and melt the butter.
- Add the whole mix to the melted butter.
- Stir continuously until mixture is thick and darkened in color. It should have about the same consistency as that of a brownie mix prior to baking.
- Transfer into small containers and let cool, then refrigerate.
- Serve when cold.
Once you have tasted Okinawan sweet potatoes, especially the last recipe I have given you, you will absolutely love it! Let me know what you think and if you have your own recipe to recommend, just post it in the comments section below and I would love to try it myself.