Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato Tart

Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato is different from Purple Yam or Ube in Tagalog. Sweet Potatoes have a smoother outer skin compared to the rough and coarser skin of yams. Sweet potatoes are sweeter, creamier and moist in texture while yams are drier and starchier.

Okinawan purple sweet potatoes are actually native to the Americas (New World) and was only brought to Japan from China sometime between 1492 and 1605. It was brought to Hawaii by the Polenisians (source here), and from there it eventually reached the US mainland.

I bought these purple sweet potatoes after stumbling upon a photo of this online. Since this is only available and sold in Japan, I was challenged to make my own. The problem was there weren’t any recipes available you can follow. The closest I can find is a youtube video which was in Japanese.

This is what I did. Scrub and wash your sweet potato and dry with paper towels. Place these in a baking tray lined with aluminum foil and bake at 400F oven for around 30-40 minutes. You will know it is done when it has a slight give when pinched. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

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Get a pre-made pastry crust and let it stand on the counter for a few minutes to soften so that it will be easy to handle. Cut your pie crust into quarters. Lightly grease and flour your boat tart molds. Get one piece and carefully arrange this over your mold and cut of excess with the edge of knife. Prick the bottom of your crust with fork. Repeat the process with the rest of your mold. Bake in a 400F oven until brown, this will only take a few minutes so make sure to watch. Mine took less than 15 minutes. Remove your baked crust from mold and let cool.

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Peel off the skin of your sweet potato or you can cut in half to scoop out the flesh. Mash this with a spoon until you get a relatively smooth consistency. Add 1/4 cup butter and stir to combine. Then add 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar and stir until everything is incorporated. Let this pass through a sieve. Place this in a piping bag with a star tip. Pipe your sweet potato mixture onto your crust. Then bake it again for around ten minutes in a 350F oven until set.

You can serve it warm or at room temperature.

P.S. I intentionally did not add any cream or egg in the mixture since I was not sure how it would affect the color of the purple sweet potato. Maybe next time I will to make it more decadent.

Below is a photo of the unbaked tart and the photo underneath is the baked one. It changes into a deeper color when baked.

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Pork Rice Bowl

It was our visit to the Hokkaido Gourmet Food Festival in Mitsuwa that inspired me to make this dish. There were various food items on sale that were sourced from that region and what caught my eye was the pork bowl sauce (tokachi tare). I initially thought that it was a dipping sauce. After doing a little research I discovered that it is used for making Butadon (pork bowl). This dish originated in Obihiro, a town in Hokkaido, Japan and is known to be that regions specialty.

This may not be an authentic butadon recipe since I just adapted it from several recipes I found online. You will need, pork slices, salt, pepper and butadon sauce. First, season your pork with salt and pepper on both sides.

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Then, grill or pan fry until brown and a bit crisp. Season meat with Butadon sauce then serve it on top of a bowl of white rice. This is usually garnished with peas or green onions.

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Salmon Sinigang with Miso

Miso is not an unusual ingredient in Filipino cooking. Our family uses it when making fish sinigang , or specifically sinigang na kanduli (a type of catfish native to the Philippines). As I have mentioned in my previous post, sinigang is a stew/soup that has been flavored with tamarind and has a similar taste to the Thai Tom Yum soup. Miso used in the Philippines is different from it’s Japanese counterpart. It has a stronger flavor, a courser texture and is referred to as soybean mash.

I substituted Japanese miso for this recipe. There are different types of miso available at the Asian store. I chose red miso which has a bolder flavor.

To make, in a heated pot add a couple of tablespoons of oil and saute a medium sized onion and two roma tomatoes that has been chopped. Cook until onions are translucent and tomatoes has released its’ juices. Then add 2 stalks of lemongrass (white parts only) that has been cut into 2 inch lengths. Cook until fragrant. Then carefully add your salmon steaks (I used 2 pieces) and allow it to get coated with the oil and aromatics. Add about 5-6 cups water and let this come to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add a packet of sinigang mix and 3 tablespoons of miso that has been diluted in water. Stir to make sure miso and the seasoning is dissolved. Let simmer until fish is almost done. Towards the end of cooking, add your asian eggplant that has been sliced at a bias, a bunch of asian greens and one long hot green pepper. The pepper would not add heat as long as it’s not pricked or sliced. Chinese mustard greens are traditionally use but you can use whatever is available to you. You may also add yard beans and radish.

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P.S. As I have mentioned before, Asians cook and serve their fish whole. Fish head is somewhat a delicacy and are usually made into soups in countries like Malaysia, China, Singapore, India and the Philippines. In this recipe I added salmon fish head which I got at my local asian store. Salmon fish head is meaty and very flavorful.

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Japanese Curry Rice

Japanese Curry or Kare is a favorite of one of my girls. This is usually served over rice or udon noodles. Katsu (chicken or pork cutlet) is almost always served with it. This is very different from the Indian style curry as this has a milder taste and is usually made from a curry roux mix. There are several Japanese brands in the market and the most popular is the House Kokumaro Curry mix. This is available at any Asian grocer.

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This is very simple to make and you only need a few simple ingredients: 1 lb. meat (chicken, pork or beef), 3 medium sized potatoes, 2 medium sized carrots, an onion and 1 box of curry mix roux.

Heat a pan and add 2-3 tbsp. of vegetable oil. Saute your diced onion until translucent. Add your meat (cut into bite size pieces) and cook until it changes color. Then add 4 cups water and let this simmer for around 15 minutes covered. Add your potatoes and carrots (cut into smalls chunks) and cook for several minutes before adding 1 box of curry mix roux. Mix well until roux is well dissolved and let this simmer for 10 minutes until sauce has thickened.

Serve over a bed of steamed white rice. Best eaten with just a spoon !

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Salad in a Jar

It’s the start of a new school year for us. This will be the last year I will be making school lunches for my girls. This is not a big deal for me since I have been doing it since they were 1st grade. They did not want to buy food at the cafeteria which they say is unpalatable and this way I am also assured that they eat healthy.

This year, I am making something new, Salad in a Jar ! The girls wanted something other than their usual sandwiches for lunch and this is what I suggested. I have seen these awhile back in pinterest but never got around to making it. You can actually make this the night before and keep it in the fridge for use the following morning.

First, get a mason jar and place a couple of tablespoons of dressing at the bottom of your jar. Then add your vegetables. Start with the hardy ones or those than won’t go limp and soggy right away (celery, cucumber, carrots, peppers etc). Then you can add some carbs like pasta or croutons. Next layer will be your protein (chicken, tuna, ham etc). The last layer will be your greens ( romaine, spinach, iceberg lettuce etc).

For my salad, I used grape tomatoes, persian cucumbers, mozzarella cheese, grilled chicken and green leaf lettuce. To serve, invert the jar with lid on to make sure that your salad will be coated with the dressing. You can either eat it straight out of the jar or tip it in bowl.

P.S. I did not add any dressing in my salad since my daughter requested that it be omitted from her lunch.

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