Minatamis na kamote was not something I ate often when growing up. We had a lot of fried kamote or even kamote-que but not minatamis. So when a Marketmanila reader (Maricel) asked for some help on a good recipe for this dish I was stumped. I suspect that I have not eaten enough of this dish to know what is appealing and what is not. Since it is a matter of personal taste, I am going on the description of Maricel that the minatamis must be â€œmakunatâ€ on the outside and tender on the inside. Makunat is officially translated as ductility or resiliency or perhaps better described as something that bends without breaking. I have heard the term applied to food all my life and I know what it describes, but translating it for an alien would be rather difficult. Old peanut brittle gets makunat in humid weather, so does chicharon or even dried squid. Anyway, since I had a kilo or more of brilliant bright orange kamote leftover from my trip to Baguio, I decided to try my luck.
The other day a friend sent me a newly published Filipino cookbook titled â€œPhilippine Cuisineâ€ by Myrna D. Segismundo. In it, she describes a minatamis na kamote that I decided to use as a base for this experiment. Her version has you boiling the kamote (orange fleshed sweet potato) whole with skins on until just tender. Then cool, peel and slice into medium sized chunks. Make a mixture of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and coat the kamote and throw it into a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the sugar caramelizes. The second photo here shows the sweet potatoes before they are put into the oven. This recipe sounded a lot like the baked sweet potatoes (note, they are sweet potatoes and NOT yams as they are often mistakenly referred to in the U.S.) I used to make in New York to go with turkey or even a Smithfield ham. A very western version, this one. The result, in the photo above, was delicious but clearly not authentically â€œFilipinoâ€ â€“ I liked it immensely but I donâ€™t think itâ€™s what Maricel is searching for – more a side dish to meat than a sweet stand-alone dessert. The boiling and baking combination resulted in a nice skin to the kamote but not quite â€œmakunatâ€ and the insides were soft and tasty. The sauce was rather thick, not a thinner dark sauce that I had in mind. Another reader said she would check out another recipe this weekend so letâ€™s hope we hear the results of that effort soonâ€¦ If I had to do it again, I would only parboil the kamote (intentionally undercook), then put in a hot oven with a more watery butter and brown sugar mixture. Perhaps some dayap or kalamansi to flavor the sauce as well.