Ube (Dioscorea alata)
Ube, also known as Purple Yam, among many other names, is a species of yam (a tuber) native to the Asian tropics. The tubers are usually vivid violet-purple to bright lavender in color. It grows as a vine and ground cover with heart shaped leaves. It is a tender perennial and will grow wonderfully with little care or attention. Ube has become naturalized throughout much of the sub-tropical world and has a variety of different uses. In Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines where the vividly purple root is widely used in deserts, such as ice cream, Swiss rolls, donuts, tarts, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, jam and other types of pastries. It is often eaten boiled, baked, or as a sweetened dessert called ube halayá (halo-halo ice cream).
The bright purple edible tubers have a mildly sweet, earthy and nutty taste, reminiscent of sweet potatoes or taro. They turn dishes distinctively vivid violet due to the high amount of anthocyanins. Ube are also valued for the starch that can be processed from them. Grow your own Ube and try your own exciting culinary creations!