Purple Ube Pancakes

OG Ube Pancakes

To most Filipinos, Ube is the Prince of Tubers—a mildly sweet yam that is used in a variety of Filipino desserts such as ice cream, cakes, hopia, and halo-halo.  Why is this yam just a prince and not a king?  Well, besides its mildly sweet and earthy flavor, Ube is known for its strange hue that is mostly associated with “The Artist Formerly (Currently) Known As”…



(Of course that’s Prince.  Don’t argue with me! I know “The Artist” when I sees him!)

Yes, folks. Whenever I think of Ube, I think of Prince.  Or whenever I think of Prince, I think of Ube.  Do with that information as you wish, but I think it’s a natural thought progression (as I’ve stated in this space before: I AM NOT CRAZY!).


The picture above is of grated Ube I bought from the Asian market (Ube comes frozen, so you have to thaw it out first).  And no, I didn’t Photoshop or mess with the color in any way.  Ube is naturally uber purple.  It’s not as sweet as a sweet potato or yam, but Ube are definitely sweeter than a regular boiling or baking potato.  As such, it is the yam of choice for both Pinoys (positively) and The Purple One (perhaps).

For those that do not know very much about Prince (heathens!), let me explain a few tidbits about The Artist:

Prince loves playing basketball.


And after destroying his opponents on the court,
Prince loves to serve them pancakes.


Dude, so shocking, I know.  But it’s all true.  If you don’t believe any of this, you can see proof right here.

Ah, Chappelle’s Show.  It’s a classic.

Anyhoo, after watching many and many a rerun of that “Prince” skit, a moment of clarity and inspiration hit me as if I purified myself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka (wha?). I heard the booming voice of Prince calling out to me:

“Marvin. This bores me. Make some purple pancakes. Oohhwhoo!”

So that’s what I did.  I made some purple pancakes for The Purple One.  I made Purple Ube Pancakes.  Oohhwhoo!

Ube Pancakes

Ok, that’s actually a bit of a lie.  I thought of the idea of Purple Ube Pancakes, and my wife made them.  She’s the bestest pancake maker in all the land, and I love her buttermilk pancakes (And that’s not a euphemism for something else. Ok, maybe it is).  She makes her pancakes from scratch and not from that stuff in the box (not that there’s anything wrong with the boxed stuff).

Coming up with the recipe for Ube Pancakes was very difficult and hurt my brain: I added a cup of the grated Ube to my wife’s pancake batter.  Science of Rockets!

Ube Pancake Batter

After whisking the purple yam into the pancake batter, we poured CD-sized (Purple Rain, of course) circles onto a hot and well-greased griddle.  The sizzle of the pancake batter sounded very familiar to me: “This is what it must sound like when doves cry!” I said out loud.

I don’t know why, but my wife was perplexed by this outburst.  Strange, that.

As I mentioned earlier, Ube (pronounced ooh-bay) have a very mild flavor, so a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the purple pancakes would probably be a better choice than maple syrup.  But that’s just me.  Either way, these Purple Ube Pancakes would probably please Prince (sorry, I couldn’t help it).  They were thin, moist, buttery, golden on the outside, and purple on the inside.

Although the Purple One didn’t serve his crestfallen foes Ube pancakes, per se, I like to think that he did.

Game.  Blouses.

Purple Ube Pancakes
Yield: 10-12 pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup grated purple yam (frozen Ube can be found in Asian markets)

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the buttermilk and the egg to the dry mixture and whisk just until combined.

Add the Ube to the pancake batter, and mix just until combined.

Pour the Ube pancake batter, to the desired pancake size, onto a well-greased griddle over medium heat.  Continue to cook the pancakes on the first side just until small bubbles form on the outer edges of the pancakes, about 3-4 minutes.

Flip the pancakes to the second side and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.

  • Mike July 24, 2007, 12:05 am

    My wife makes the best homemade buttermilk pancakes that goes perfect with a side of fresh berries, maple syrup, and sausages. We’ve been wondering for awhile on how to put a pinoy twist to that. You definitely gave us a good start now. Any suggestions on the syrup and sausages… pinoy style… (nah, skip the longaniza suggestion). Thanks!

  • Christine July 24, 2007, 12:25 am

    Ok firstly, that was hilarious! The whole Prince – Purple – Ube thing. I can’t wait for Katrina to see this post. Second, that looks absolutely delicious! I love ube, and I love pancakes. But I’ve never had them together.

  • jenjen July 24, 2007, 1:57 am

    Yummo! Those pancakes look scrumptious. I love ube, although never cooked with it before. This looks like a recipe to try. Thanks.

  • WengN July 24, 2007, 6:57 am

    Whoa – those look absolutely delicious!!! I should try those for sure. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Prince – este, Marvin! 😉

  • Katrina July 24, 2007, 10:42 am

    People often ask me if I like ube because it’s purple. So I’ll say right from the start: no. I like ube because I like its taste. In the same vein, I’m not a Prince fan because he likes purple…though, it’s possible I started obsessing about purple because I was a Prince fan. And do you care? Probably not. ;-)ANYWAY…Ube pancakes are a great idea! Do you really taste the ube in it? Hmm…I wonder if spreading ube jam on pancakes would be good? Check out Wysgal’s (Rant & Rave) post in her blog about a Canadian gelateria she went to recently. They had many Asian-inspired flavors, including Purple Yam! YAY for ube! 😀

  • Steamy Kitchen July 24, 2007, 12:08 pm

    Rock on, purple pancakes!

  • Chad Rowdy July 24, 2007, 9:38 pm

    Does this make you a Purple Pancake Eater?
    Is Prince a Purple Pancake Server?
    Computer Blue!

  • the scholar July 24, 2007, 10:23 pm

    okay, that was HILARIOUS. you are a great writer and i love your blog!
    i haven’t had ube sice i was a child and my mom made halo halo. and i didn’t even remember halo halo until i read this post. thanks for the memories and keep up the good work!

  • toni July 24, 2007, 11:03 pm

    First time I’ve heard of this dish! You’re really creative. You and you wrife make a good team!

  • Wandering Chopsticks July 25, 2007, 10:06 am

    Marvin! Is this is what it must sound like when DOUGHS cries? 😛
    What? No halo halo? How can you call yourself Filipino? 😉

  • TeddyKim July 25, 2007, 3:31 pm

    Marvin, I’m not kidding when I say I’ve read this post more than 10 times! And I laugh everytime!
    How about you and your friends versus me and the Revolution?

  • Janice July 25, 2007, 10:54 pm

    hahahaha…that’s funny that you think of Prince whenever you think of ube. my uncle owns a Filipino bakery and makes ube hopia…when i was a kid, his store was near a McDonald’s and my older cousins used to tell me that he kidnapped Grimace for the hopia. i still can’t stomach ube without thinking of poor Grimace.
    PS…the pancakes look like my mom’s eggplant omelets.

  • Burnt Lumpia July 26, 2007, 8:20 am

    Mike, you beat me to the punch, I was definitely going to recommend Longanisa;)
    Thanks Christine! It was a very purple experience.
    jenjen, I’ve never cooked with ube before either, but I was very pleased with how these pancakes turned out.
    WengN, it’s a pretty easy recipe. I’m sure you can add ube to any pancake batter and have good results.
    Katrina, the ube flavor was very faint, but you know it’s there. Actually, after thinking about it now, you might be better off using regular milk instead of buttermilk so that the ube flavor is more pronounced. But I do love buttermilk pancakes. Also, I searched for the post you are talking about, but couldn’t find it. Do you have a link?
    Thanks Steamy!
    Chad, shoot the J! Shoot it!
    scholar, thanks for the kind words.
    toni, I wasn’t really being creative, I was just heeding the wishes of Prince;)
    Dub C, the blender we have sucks at crushing ice, and we don’t have an ice shaver, so no halo-halo, yet.
    TK, assemble your crew. I’ll be outside.
    Janice, that’s hilarious about Grimace. I guess Ube makes people think of crazy things.

  • elmomonster July 27, 2007, 10:29 am

    Ube pancakes! I love it! Taro is nice, but ube is nicer.

  • Steamy Kitchen July 29, 2007, 7:35 pm

    Ok, my ube coconut ice cream was just so=so. I don’t think I like the non-taste of ube! after defrosting and tasting it, the texture really weirded me out!

  • Ari (Baking and Books) July 31, 2007, 5:25 am

    Haha, how did you know I would be wondering about that photo of Prince? Wow, he looked different back in the day!
    I’ve never tried Ube but you’ve certainly stoked my curiosity. I want to get a taste of it now.

  • Burnt Lumpia July 31, 2007, 9:18 pm

    Elmo, yes, I definitely prefer Ube over taro.
    Steamy, I was looking so forward to whatever magic you whipped up with Ube. I had another idea for an ube ice cream that I will play with soon…
    Ari, Ube has a very mild flavor, so keep that in mind if you try it out. Thanks for your comment!

  • Katrina August 1, 2007, 11:45 am

    Here’s the link: http://wysgal.blogspot.com/2007_07_01_archive.html
    Scroll down till you get to the one about La Casa Gelato. :-)

  • -chick- October 11, 2007, 6:50 am

    interesting.. might try that out since i love ube! ube jam– yummm :) im a big fan of ube hopia too!

  • Jen Tan October 18, 2007, 11:48 pm

    I love ube and pancakes!!!! Yummm!!! You’re a funny cook! hahaha…O remember one time my kid sis asked me..”if hamburglar repsresents hamburger…the fry kids..french fries..what does grimace represent?—I go—UBE? ;Phehehe Grimace reminds me of Ube as Prince does to you!

  • min November 28, 2007, 10:33 pm

    Hi, I have never thought about pancake with ube. I just made ube with raisin and baked it in oven. I did not put any butter for health concern. It was pretty good Japanese sweet like ube ball.

  • greasemonkey August 18, 2008, 10:57 am

    heheh.. to complete tafkap ‘theme’ (izzat what they call him these days? or did he change it again?), have seven of these pancakes (and watch them fall) while reading the morning papers.. curse/boon of a lost age.. hehehe..
    mike, in place of syrup you could use a little cocojam or latik (maybe dilute it a bit even..). for sausages, you could use vienna sausages but try to get some from the philippines (like reno, ram, or something like that).. over here, when you say ‘sausage’ people immediately think of vienna sausages.. hehe..

  • Niña Mendoza August 25, 2008, 11:39 pm

    Found this post googling Prince. HILARIOUS. Represent that Ube, son.

  • Erin August 31, 2008, 9:01 am

    Thanks for the recipe! I made these using pumpkin instead, as I couldn’t find any ube. They came out pretty mushy (pumpkin never really firms up), but they were still tasty.

  • Riza October 22, 2008, 7:20 am

    thanks for sharing the recipe,but,how’s the taste anyway?no sugar?no sauce?should be nice if you write down the complete ingredients.

  • Burnt Lumpia October 22, 2008, 8:56 am

    Thanks for the feedback, Riza. But as I mentioned in the post above, the ube flavor is very mild so I didn’t put any syrup on it and instead opted to sprinkle powdered sugar. Also, the complete list of ingredients is indeed listed above.

  • ravenouscouple October 28, 2009, 6:34 pm

    not sure why it’s taken us things long…but awesome blog! def. most humorous. have you worked with ube powder…the package doesn’t say how much water to use to reconstitute.

  • ravenouscouple October 28, 2009, 6:35 pm

    not sure why it’s taken us so long, but awesome blog! definitely most humorous. have you worked with powdered ube? the package doesn’t state how much water to use

  • mamai December 20, 2009, 1:31 am

    you’re so funny! ill come back and will read more of your posts! :)

  • Charlene of VA January 10, 2010, 4:04 pm

    I am so happy to find your blog. I just ate some store-bought ube ice cream which had great flavor but my fellow diners laughed at me when I smiled with blue-colored teeth and lips! The manufacturer must have added a lot of food coloring… I will attempt to make your version of blueberry ice cream minus the blueberry and if the flavor comes out the same or better than store bought, I thank you!!! I will try your pancake recipe too.

  • Avelina Dailytrader August 19, 2010, 9:45 pm

    It seems that I am reading a nice funny joke but have learned a purple strange recipe while enjoying the lines of joke. Your way of writing is awesome , one can’t get bored. Would try to find this purple yam in the super market, have not seen yet on some local store , any ways lot of thanks

  • Juanito See January 13, 2011, 11:27 pm

    Eng Bee Tin Ube hopia has artificial food colors and is banned by US FDA under import alert 45-02 per web page :\

  • Kathy Diaz (found baking) February 28, 2012, 10:13 am

    Ube and Prince! Makes sense to me. This looks really good.

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