Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ubi Ungu, an Okinawan import

Ubi Ungu

Ubi Ungu, or Purple Sweet Potato (Kumara for our NZ viewers) is a newcomer to bali.
Originally from Okinawa, japan.
The sweet potato itself is a cultigen from Peru that somehow managed to be traded westwards prior to the European exploration of the Pacific ocean. Its presence seems to indicate at least some level of human contact between the polynesian seafarers travelling east and the ancient civilizations of western south america. Apart from its presence from antiquity, the name for the root, Kumara, is identical between the New Zealand Maori and the indigenous farmers of Peru.
Sweet potato also had a significant impact in New guinea. At some point probably in the last several hundred years pieces of this vegetatively propagated crop made their way into the remote Papuan highlands. Prior to this the staple food were indigenous Yams (Dioscorea spp.). The sweet potato is a much more productive crop and allowed the population to explode much as the potato introduction oreland released a population from chronic hunger and cased a population boom.
When western explorers first entered the New guniea highlands they were amazed by the large populations they found living in near isolation from the outside world - and owing in most part to one plant. Today it remains the staple of highland Papua.

The sweet potato sure is a nutritious crop, rich in sugars and starches, minerals and in pigmented strains full of valuable carotenoids (Pro Vitamin A) and betains.
It can be boiled, roasted, fried, turned to snack foods, confectionary, flour,

Indonesia is home to many varieties of this root crop and i will talk about those in future, varieties like Ubi Cilembu...
But what grabbed my attention last time was the amazingly purple Ubi Ungu.
Generaly they seem smaller than the regular sweet potatoes and the skin is a dark purple.
You may first see them in grocers as a potato chip in clear bags, the rich purple looks unnatural!
These are a well made crisp fried in Palm kernel oil.

But the way i preferred it most was simply boiled or steamed and eaten plain. They are a filling food, and sustain energy over a long time.

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