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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

Okinawan Sweet Potatoes are a unique variety of sweet potato with purple flesh. In Japan they are called Beni Imo for purple sweet potato. Surprisingly Okinawan sweet potatoes are not from Japan or Japan's southern islands known as Okinawa. They are actually from Central and South America.

Sometime between the 15th and 17th centuries, Okinawan sweet potatoes were brought from the Americas to Asian and eventually made their way to Japanese dinner tables. The Japanese found many creative ways in which to use this delicious purple potato. The most famous dish is

Okinawan Sweet Potato Tempura.

Around the mid 1800’s waves of Japanese immigrants mostly from Okinawa came to Hawaii to work on the sugar plantations. With them they brought Beni Imo. Eventually the Beni Imo became known as Okinawan sweet potato to the people of Hawaii.

Today the majority of the Okinawan sweet potatoes are grown in Hawaii on the island of Molokai. Locals in Hawaii usually bake them in the oven or on the Hibachi because they taste great without anything added. We all know about Okinawan Sweet Potato Tempura but over the last 10 years Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie has become the new rage.

When buying your Okinawan sweet potatoes don’t forget to check for holes in the skin. The holes mean that worms have made their way into the flesh. Worm infested Okinawan sweet potatoes are bitter and inedible. You can’t even cut away the bad portions because for some reason the worms emit some sort of chemical that ruins the whole sweet potato.

Who can blame the worms for feasting on Okinawan sweet potatoes? Not only do they taste very good but they are good for you and highly nutritious. Their high fiber content and low glycemic index makes it a great alterative for people watching their carbohydrate intake and trying to lose weight. I know a few National Level Bodybuilders who used Okinawan sweet potatoes to diet for contests.

In the next few posts we will talk more about this miracle food so stay tuned.

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