Erstwhile Super88 - holy yams!
Hadn't been in the Allston "Coming soon! HK Market" in a while, but stopped in tonight for a few things, and was surprised at just how large the yams section has grown! Japanese (reddish) yams, taro, *enormous* nagaimo, satoimo, and .... ube/purple yams! I think this may be the first time I've seen ube in Boston proper (though maybe it makes an occasional appearance at CMart? I can't remember now) A batch of ube halaya is currently bubbling on the stove :)
(In sadder ube-related news, though, they seem to not be restocking the frozen Ho-Land ube hopia/mooncakes, which are far superior to the refrigerated hopia that they've been carrying... hopefully this is just temporary- I really liked the macapuno/pandan flavor!)
Thanks! This will help me in my quest for ube proselytization! Who wouldn't find vibrantly purple yams irresistable? :) I think the problem is that they look light colored and inconspicuous in the store. I found them on the end of a "block" of vegetables (among the non-refrigerated items), closest to the wall, on the right-hand side when you walk in (you can kind of see a litle purpleness in any ones that are cut or broken in the bin)
And yes, since ube is a novelty (until now?) in Boston, one more bit of info: Actually, I do something even simpler for a small batch of halaya: heat one can of condensed milk and half stick of butter on medium heat, while you're peeling 1 pound of boiled yams. Mash them and add them to the pot along with (optionally) some powdered milk and a pinch of salt, and then stir fairly constantly until it's thickened and can be spread into a buttered pan. (If you spread a little butter on top, you can spread it smoother and it will be shiny) This ratio is sweet, but not as cloyingly sweet as some...
I don't make it down to Kam Man often, so I'm thinking that before they disappear again from Allston, I'll stock up again and we'll try making ube cheesecake, like a bright purple version of sweet potato cheesecake :)
Adam, you might also enjoy doing an ube version of Diana Kennedy's Mexican dessert, Dulce de Camote, on pg.323 of her The Cuisines of Mexico. see below.You add sugar syrup to the mash, w/ candied fruits , pecans, cinnamon, and tequila and rum; letting it rip[en a few days before serving w/ sour or whipped cream. hmmmm good.
fyi, regarding Puebla in Mexico:
DULCES (CAMOTES)- Last but certainly not least, no story about Puebla treats would be complete without mentioning the sweets!!! The camote (or sweet potato) candy is unique to Puebla. In fact, Poblano men are referred to as “camotes”. They are everywhere! And they are still made in the traditional way, rolling each candy by hand after it has been cooked and perhaps had a fruit flavor added. And yet again, the camotes are said to have been first made by the nuns of the convent Santa Clara. What was up with the nuns of Puebla and inventing fascinating dishes? (perhaps that’s the next investigation!) There are entire streets dedicated to “dulces” in Puebla. They are amazing, colorful and fun places to shop, with windows full of dozens of different candies, gift baskets of every size and shape, and samples! A perfect gift to take home for friends and family, but make sure to get a basket for yourself too, the dulces are too tempting and Mom’s souvenir basket just might not make it home!
Dulce De Camote
2 pounds sweet potatoes or ube!
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 c. high quality candied citrus and dried fruits, chopped
1/4 cup each dark and golden raisins
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons tequila (anejo preferably)
Set the oven at 375° F.
In a baking dish, bake the sweet potatoes whole for 1 1/2 hours or until they are tender. Let them cool. Remove and discard the skin. Chop the flesh into half-inch cubes.
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to high and boil the syrup until it forms the thread (225° F. on a candy thermometer).
In a large mixing bowl, mix the syrup with the sweet potatoes, vanilla, cinnamon, pecans, fruit, the rum, and the tequila.
Cover and refrigerate at leat 3 days to ripen.
Serve at room temperature, topped with creme fraiche or unsweetened whipped cream.