03 Nov2013


Sweet potatoes are not yams. And yams are not sweet potatoes. Really. I know the terms are often used interchangeably in North America, and apparently increasingly here in Asia as my suki vendor referred to these as “ube-kamote” or literally “yam sweet potatoes”… but the two are both tubers but aren’t that closely related. I was intrigued to find a huge sack of what looked like kamote, but in a deeply purple hue. Of course I had to buy some to check them out. Why do I think they are sweet potatoes? The skin is smoother and thinner than that of yams, like ube, which has that darker chubaka (hairy creature in Star Wars for the young and naive amongst you) quality to it…


Peeled and passed through a benriner or mandoline, it yielded the most amazing deep purple flesh that was rather stunning, actually. Here is a link to some purple sweet potatoes, in the U.S., branded at that, but I suspect there are purple sweet potatoes in lots of different places. Next up, how to use it…



  1. EbbaBlue says:

    Here in Houston, purple potatoes comes in small round shapes, parang sinlaki ng daranghita.

    Nov 3, 2013 | 6:19 pm


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  3. Bijin says:

    Known in Hawaii as Okinawan sweet potato and can be found in some markets in Japan. I buy them when they’re around and right now is the season.
    It is becoming more available in the US mainland as farmers find there’s a demand from Asian populations and is a better crop than tobacco. Also being touted to replace artificial food coloring for some colors.
    Some are sweet and some kind of bland like the ones I have now…lol

    Nov 3, 2013 | 6:41 pm

  4. Marketman says:

    EbbaBlue, as I understand it, there are blue POTATOES and blue SWEET POTATOES as well… several small blue potato varities exist… Bijin, yes, they are being used for all kinds of dishes apparently…

    Nov 3, 2013 | 7:17 pm

  5. Ken_L says:

    When I was younger in Australia, sweet potato was either purple or white, like in the picture in your post on 13 Feb last year. The orange kamote, also unimaginatively called sweet potato, only appeared in markets later, but is the most common now. They must be very easy to grow – I’ve seen them dumped for horse feed sometimes because it’s not worth sending them to market. Yams, for some reason, are practically unknown in Australia.

    The white and purple sweet potatoes turn very soft when boiled or baked, and are slightly stringy. Their taste is very different to kamote – much sweeter. But apparently they are all varieties of the same plant – more than anyone wants to know at http://www.saveur.com/gallery/16-Shades-of-Sweet?page=6

    Nov 3, 2013 | 8:30 pm

  6. betty q. says:

    Rich in antioxidants like blueberries, I have resorted to eating purple sweet potatoes when fresh blueberries are no longer in season and my frozen blueberries are slowly dwindling. I have also used it together with frozen ube when I make jaleya….

    But sadly, I cannot get them to bear fruit for most likely it needs a long hot growing season….not suited for our climate. Neverheless, I get to enjoy the shoots to my heart’s content…cannot get enough of sautéed kamote shoots with my XO sauce.

    Together with parsnips, carrots, yellow beets, I cube them, drizzle with olive oil, roast them…makes a visually appealing roasted root vegetable salad with warm bacon/shallot dressing.

    Nov 3, 2013 | 11:07 pm

  7. Joyce says:

    Something needs to be said about Taro (gabi) as well. Too many misinformed people think that the purple taro flavor in milk teas and yogurt is ube (yam) when in fact it is gabi (taro)

    Nov 3, 2013 | 11:14 pm

  8. pdic says:

    You could have a go with Chef Larry’s very simple Ukoy.

    Nov 4, 2013 | 12:14 am

  9. myra_p says:

    Chewbacca :)

    Nov 4, 2013 | 12:48 am

  10. Marketman says:

    myra_p, hahaha, you made me laugh… I was spelling phonetically. But I recall the character vividly. :)

    Nov 4, 2013 | 6:23 am

  11. Bijin says:

    betty q, a friend in Idaho plants the purple potatoes in a big pot and brings it inside her house for the duration of the winter season. She does it with pineapple too and other asian veggies like sitaw. Her house has turned into a mini forest so she’s going to have a green house built.

    Nov 4, 2013 | 8:20 am

  12. khrishyne says:

    the future of sweet potato fries. mixed with yellow, orange and white camote

    Nov 4, 2013 | 10:12 am

  13. Grace says:

    Boil, mash & mix with glutinous rice flour & other ingredients to make Japanese doughnuts ala Gavino’s or “Pon de ring”. They are fried so they’re sinfully delicious :)

    Nov 4, 2013 | 2:25 pm

  14. Rob says:

    In Perú, there’s a purple potato called papa púrpura (botanical name: solanum andigenum). It’s not a sweet potato, just a regular waxy potato with an immensely deep purple color and is higher in antioxidants than other potato varieties. In the past they were reserved for the Incan nobility.

    Nov 4, 2013 | 5:10 pm

  15. biyay says:

    i think the purple variety is called “indelible” (pronounced phonetically) in bicol. i rarely see it in the markets nowadays

    Nov 4, 2013 | 10:25 pm

  16. betty q. says:

    Thanks Bijin but I am very careful bringing outdoor plants indoor unless I squirt them first with something like a drop of dish washing detergent in water. When they have had a good bath in it, then I feel comfortable bringing them indoors.

    Nov 5, 2013 | 11:44 am

  17. chichay says:

    oh, purple camote tastes good when boiled with a slather of butter for breakfast. :)

    Nov 5, 2013 | 3:28 pm

  18. corrine says:

    I bought some kilos of purple sweet potato on the road side. It was very good! How come I don’t see them in the market?

    Nov 6, 2013 | 7:41 pm

  19. Zerho says:

    Remembered my sister painstakingly making ube halaya and not allowing us to taste the unfinished dessert. It was only when I tasted it that she realized the “ube” was actually purple camote. Fortunately the camote halaya was still delicious..

    Nov 8, 2013 | 2:51 am

  20. grace says:

    thanks, finally someone agrees with me on this…ube is not purple taro nor purple sweet potato. I was so excited when i finally found a Tastee brand, Whole Purple Yam (Ube) in our local asian grocer. I was going to make ube cake for the first time. I was so disappointed to find out, after i boiled the “ube” and it was’nt ube…the texture is so much like the purple sweet potato! I was mad actually…because i thought i have found that something that ive been looking for in a very long time. what a let down. shame on Tastee ! oh well…back to the drawing board…still i need to find fresh ube…i would have it shipped here in michigan if im sure its really ube and not purple sweet potato or taro…

    Nov 12, 2013 | 6:14 am

  21. Renate says:

    Here at 8000′ in Cotacachi, Ecuador, always available so called Camote,
    taste like sweet potato but can be a bit stringy. I like to know: when I cook them like
    potatoes (have no oven), the water turns a bright medium green. What’s that??

    Jul 2, 2014 | 10:36 pm


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