Pablo Picasso had his Blue Period, and I guess for me, the last couple of weeks have been my Purple Period. Luckily however, my monochromatic muse was not inspired by someone’s suicide or large quantities of absinthe.
(On second thought, maybe absinthe did play a role in these seemingly odd creations of mine.)
Anyhoo, whether I was lucid or not is besides the point people! I have come to the conclusion that Ube is a very versatile ingredient–lending its mildly sweet flavors to desserts and savory dishes alike. That’s right. Savory! (Egads man, he has lost his mind!)
For my latest (I’ve purposefully delayed posting this so as not to oversaturate your eyeballs with violet visions) and probably last (I’m all purpled out) Ube recipe, I used a couple of purple yams that I found at my Asian grocery store.
Technically speaking, the purple yams I found are not true Ube from the Philippines. The yams I found were just labeled as "Purple Yams" at the Asian grocery. But more specifically, I think they are better known as okinawan sweet potatoes.
Real Filipino Ube yams have a darker skin, and unless I’m mistaken, cannot be found here in the States. But compared to the frozen Ube from the Philippines that I used for my previous recipes, the flavor and texture of these purple yams were almost the same, if not just a touch sweeter. Also, don’t mistake purple yams or Ube for the purple Peruvian potatoes that have recently become available at farmers’ markets and some grocery stores. Yams are sweeter than potatoes, so they can’t really be used interchangeably.
To make my purple yam gnocchi, I basically looked up a bunch of regular ol’ potato gnocchi recipes and went from there. I ended up boiling a pound of purple yam, then peeled and passed them through a potato ricer and onto a floured surface.
I then made a crater in the center of the yam mound, dusted this purple volcano with flour, and added an egg to the crater.
Working from the middle, I began mixing the yams and flour and egg together until a large purple ball was formed. I then cut this purple blob into fourths, and rolled and stretched each quarter into an inch-thick rope. Once I had the ropes formed, I cut the rope into inch-long pieces.
Finally, using my thumb, I flicked each purple piece off of the tines of a fork to form the classic indentations for gnocchi. The purpose of these indentations is two-fold: First, they look cool. Second, they allow the gnocchi to grab on to whatever sauce they are being served with.
After all of the gnocchi earned their stripes, I plopped them into some salted boiling water. After a couple of minutes, they floated to the top and I moved them to an ice bath. After the ice bath, the gnocchi can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, and then prepared in a number of ways.
These slightly sweet gnocchi probably wouldn’t play well with a tomato sauce. But they do go nicely with a sheen of browned butter and sage. Just melt some butter in a skillet with some chopped sage and heat until the butter foams. Toss in the purple gnocchi and cook until heated through. If you’d like, make things a bit sweeter by adding some honey to your browned butter.
If you’d like to keep things strictly Filipino (Strictly 4 My PINOYZ!), saute the boiled and cooled gnocchi in a bit of oil until the gnocchi is browned slightly and the purple becomes more intense. Then serve the purple yam gnocchi as a side to your favorite Chicken Adobo recipe.
You can use any chicken adobo recipe you want, but this recipe happens to be my favorite Chicken Adobo. The indentations on the gnocchi hold on to just the right amount of soy, vinegar, and garlic.
In spite of our monochromatic muses, Picasso and I have little else in common. That is, unless, he had a thing for Filipino food, rap music, and/or cheesy Kung-fu flicks. Somehow, I get the feeling ol’ Pablo wasn’t into any of those things.
Purple Yam Gnocchi
1 pound purple yams
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup flour
Boil the purple yams until soft, about 30 minutes. When yams are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and pass the yams through a potato ricer onto a well-floured surface.
Form a well in the middle of the riced yams, cover evenly with 3/4 cup flour, and place an egg in the center of the well. Using a fork, break the yolk of the egg and begin to mix the egg, flour, and yams together–starting from the inside of the well and working your way out.
When a dough is formed, continue kneading with your hands. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour and continue kneading. After the dough comes together into a ball, cut the ball into fourths. Roll each quarter of the dough into long ropes about 1-inch thick, then cut the ropes into 1-inch pieces.
Using your thumb, press each piece of dough against the back of a fork and gently roll off of the fork. Use just enough pressure to form indentations in the dough. Once each gnocchi is formed, drop them into salted boiling water just until they float to the top, about 1-2 minutes. Remove gnocchi from boiling water and place in an ice bath.
Once gnocchi are boiled, cooled, and drained, place them in a bowl with a drizzle of oil to keep them from sticking. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, until they are ready for use.