The first time I cut open a purple yam, I gasped so loudly, my husband thought I had cut myself. The inside was so beautiful - light purple and juicy, almost like a fruit. This is unexpected, as the outside skin looks brown and dull, like any other yam. The Purple Okinawan Sweet Potato (pictured) can be found across North America at your local Asian or Chinese market, and even at some regular grocery store chains.
Look for it in the fall and winter.
There are two types of purple yam
- The Filipino "ube" or "ubi" (not usually available in the US), which has darker, rougher-looking skin. It grows on a vine above the ground, so is quite different from regular yams. This vegetable is a major crop and food source in the Philippines. It is also made into a powder which is then used in Filipino desserts (you'll know them by their bright purple color!).
- The Purple Okinawan Sweet Potato (pictured here) is ground underground and is similar to Western sweet potatoes and yams. From the outside, the purple yam / sweet potato looks the same but cut one open and you'll know the difference! These yams are wonderful boiled, steamed, or baked alongside regular yams and sweet potatoes.
Purple Yam Nutrition
Like regular yams, purple yams are extremely good for you. High in potassium, plus B6, vitamin C, fiber, plus antioxidants, purple yams are truly one of nature's wonders.
For a delicious recipe, see my: Baked Sweet Potatoes and Purple Yams Recipe, or see links below.