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Anything Asian: Filipino Ube (Yummy Desert!)

For today’s Anything Asian, I feature one of my favorite foods in the world – Ube! I cooked this with my dad today! :3

purple yam - cooked

Image by k-ideas via Flickr

Ube or Ubeng Halaya as it is also popularly called is a traditional desert of the Filipino family. It is very popular in events and celebrations of the family. Ube is made from Purple Yam (which gives it the natural purple color).  For those of you who did not know what Purple Yam is, it is a tuberous root veggie that grows under the soil. It has a brownish outer layer when pulled out of the soil, but when you peel its skin, you get a light to dark purple color. It is widely known to be used in many desserts. Because it is abundant here in the Philippines, we have varieties of uses for it. We have Ube Ice Cream, Ube cake (so heavenly!), Ube tarts, Ube in bread rolls, and many other pastries. The most popular Ube dish is the Ube Halaya, which is taking the Purple Yam and combining it with milk.

Ube is one of the family recipes that we have mastered over the years. My grandfather was quite a popular cook back in his days and this is one of the special treats that he cooks very well. My grandmother also knew how to cook it, and so she passed her knowledge to all her children, including my dad. My dad is a great cook – not nearly as good as my mom, but he is still very good.

Ube halaya (Purple yam)

Image by dollierv via Flickr

Cooking Ube Halaya is not easy. I only tried one time cooking it and my arms hurt for two days after that. This is the reason why my dad always tells me that we should do it together. It can be sort of a father-daughter bonding. For this week’s Anything Asian, I’d like to share with you the family recipe, and tips on how to cook your Ubeng Halaya like a pro.

You will need the following ingredients:

*Purple Yam (Ube)

*Condensed Milk

*Evaporated Milk


*Unsalted Butter

For the measurements of the ingredients, I honestly don’t know how big a serving size is. All I know is that for every kilogram of purple yam, you must have 250 ml of Evaporated milk and about 400 ml of condensed milk. You also have to have around 1/8 kg of sugar. You can actually do what you want with the taste. Adjust the sweetness according to your preference.

You will need the following tools:

*A big pot

*A large mixing bowl

*A small grater (a cheese grater would be good)

*a spatula

*a large not-very shallow pan

*a ladle

If you are a large sucker for Ubeng Halaya like our family is, you would need big mixing bowls for your desert. We bought 2 kg of Purple Yam. Here’s the cooking instruction:

1. Wash the Purple Yams until they are clean of dirt. Fill a big pot with water and place the Yams inside. They have to be fully submerged. Don’t peel the yam even if you want to. The flavor would be lost in the water.

Sliced raw Hawaiian ube (purple yam). Photo ta...

Image via Wikipedia

2. Boil the yam until tender. You may test the tenderness with a fork. If the outer layer is very soft, it is very likely that the yam is cooked inside. It does not matter even if you overcook it since you would be mashing it anyway.

3. Allow the yams to cool for at least 15-20 minutes. When they are not too hot to be touched anymore, you may start peeling them. Peel the outer layer including the roots sticking out. You have to make sure you take out all roots or my dad says when you eat it, you would have a very itchy feeling in your throat.

4. Using a fine grater, grate the yams into a large mixing bowl. The finer the grater you use, the finer the texture of the finished yams would be.

5. Mix in the other ingredients. Mix well. We sometimes add cheese to make the mixture tastier and creamier, but if you don’t want it, that’s fine. If you want more accuracy in mixing, use an electric mixer. Adjust the flavor to how sweet you want it. You have to make it sweeter than what you want it to be because when you heat the mixture again, it will slightly lose its sweetness.

6. Put the mixture in a not very shallow pan. Perhaps something as deep as a wok. Fire it in medium to low heat. Watch your heat because the mixture easily burns.

7. Give it a really good mix every 10 seconds or so. Make sure you are mixing to the depths of the mixture to avoid sticking and burning.WATCH IT LIKE A HAWK.

8. Mix it until it gets to your desired stickiness. My dad and I like it slightly sticky so we gave the ones we cooked today around 45 minutes to an hour.

9. The last step is about putting it on a container. Before you put it on a container, glaze the container with butter to prevent it from sticking. Some Filipinos (especially if the Ube is going to be served in a big Fiesta) put it on banana leaves to prevent sticking. My dad and I used Plain Unsalted Butter, but you can use any butter you want. I just want plain butter so it would not affect the taste of the Ube.

Enjoy your Ube! Some people add Toasted Shaved Coconut on top, but I like it really plain and simple. I hope you guys try this recipe. It’s a really nice recipe from the Philippines. If you ever get to Philippines, try this sweet treat. It’s good to use as a jam too!

Till the next recipe,

Andy :x

© 2011 Images are not owned by me. Dividers are either from or Other images have citations.

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