Until last week, I don't think I had ever seen a purple sweet potato. In fact, I know I hadn't. My, how things change.
My husband and I were on the island of Kauai last week and one day at around 3:30pm were looking for a place to eat. As seems to be the norm, we couldn't find a spot that was open since in my experience dining anytime between 3pm and 5pm is always a tough time to find a meal because many restaurants have either closed after lunch and/or are gearing up for dinner service. After checking out a few places, we were lucky enough to end up at Oasis on the Beach, an upscale poolside restaurant/bar that showcases the best Hawaiian agriculture through eclectic methods of preparation and rests within the Waipouli Beach Resort. All of the food at Oasis is served tapas style and 90% of its ingredients are from local sources...including the Okinawan purple sweet potato chips and purple sweet potato puree.
|Okinawan purple sweet potato chips...eaten by One Brown Girl.|
Oasis on the Beach / Kauai, HI / June 2011
|Seared tuna with Okinawan purple sweet potato puree & bok choi...|
eaten by One Brown Girl @ Oasis on the Beach / Kauai, HI / June 2011
Of course, what I didn't know until I got home and researched it, is that Okinawan purple sweet potatos are native to the Japanese island, Okinawa and are also known as Hawaiian purple sweet potatos. According to HawaiiPride.com, Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes from Central America and the West Indies to Spain and Spanish explorers took them to the Phillippines. Then Portugese explorers took them to China and China introduced them to Japan over 300 years ago. It is believed that the Purple Sweet Potato was brought to Hawaii a couple of centuries ago when many Japanese were immigrating to the islands while it is a fact that today, China is the largest grower of all sweet potatoes, providing about 80% of the world's supply. [Source] That's a lot of traveling for a sweet potato, dontchathink?
|Sweet potato flaky pastry, typical in Japan. Source: Wiki|
You might also be interested to know that purple sweet potatos are not only tasty (although the chips weren't that sweet but the puree was), but fat-free, low in calories, high in fiber, great for diabetics and people who are carbohydrate sensitive, and loaded with antioxidants. A one cup serving of Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potatoes has only 140 calories, yet is packed with 4 grams of dietary fiber. [Source] And for you traditional sweet potato pie eaters, I even found a recipe for purple sweet potato pie (pictured above left). Is that novel or what? Almost as novel as purple carrots...which is next on my list of Things to Try.
I admit that I'm a pretty picky eater, but I'm happy to say that I discovered a new food that I actually like...and the fact that it's good for me is the gravy on top. No, wait. I don't want gravy on my purple sweet potatos. Now that just wouldn't do. Blech.