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Pan

Tubers

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This thread on Cantonese desserts spun off a discussion on tubers, which I'd like to continue here.

We were discussing taro, sweet potatoes, and the meanings of "yam." My understanding is that these are three different things. Taro, which is called "Ubi Kayu" in Malay, is cassava or tapioca root, and is a staple of Polynesia, where it's used to make poi. It's very starchy and doesn't have many other nutrients.

Sweet potatoes in the U.S. and other places I've been to come in two varieties I've noticed: One that may have somewhat darker skin and be larger and has orange flesh; and the sometimes lighter-skinned, smaller kind with yellow flesh. I don't recall a white variety, which has been referred to in the linked thread. In Malay, sweet potatoes are called "Ubi Keladi" and also "Ubi Stela." "Stela" is short for "Castela"=Castilla, Spain, because apparently, the Spanish brought them there initially.

As for yams, the way I understand the word, it refers to a type of tuber that I believe is originally from Africa, a starchy kind with purple flesh that has a different and much stronger taste than the bland tapioca root, which I also call taro. I do not call this kind of tuber "taro." These exist in Malaysia, but I don't remember their Malay name.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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As I understand it, taro and cassava are two different tubers. I think taro is Colocasia esculenta from the Araceae family and cassava is Manihot esculenta, from the Euphorbiaceae family.

As for the Malay names, my memory (and some "research") tells me:

cassava is ubi kayu

taro is ubi keladi

sweet potato is ubi keledek

What I know for sure is that they're all delicious!

I don't think I've ever had true yam, or tubers of the Dioscorea genus.

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You might want to ask Brooks about this. I understood that Louisiana sweet potato farmers got some sort of law passed way back when that allowed them to call their product "yams" even though, as you pointed out, true yams grow only in Africa.

I believe that technically speaking both the yellow fleshed and the orange fleshed potatoes are classified as sweet potatoes.

That being said, the American shopper has come to recognize the orange fleshed potatoes as yams (see the label on the canned orange fleshed potatoes on grocery store shelves) and the yellow fleshed potatoes as sweet potatoes, though some use both terms to describe the orange fleshed ones.


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Laksa, I see from doing a search on the Latin names you provided that cassava and taro are two different things, and that cassava=yuca=ubi kayu. But I still don't think we've resolved what taro (Colocasia esculenta) is called in Malay. Unless nomenclature is very different in Sarawak than in the Terengganu dialect and standard Malay I learned, or unless my memory is failing me, ubi keledik is simply potato, and ubi keladi/stela are sweet potato. Are you positive ubi keladi was used for taro and not sweet potato? I thought it had another name. (For everyone's information, "ubi" is the generic Malay word for "tuber." It seems that "ube" is the word for "taro" in Tagalog.)

But since this thread is on general, I'd also like to solicit comments from far and wide about the other varieties of tubers you like best or find most interesting. I know that there are all kinds of interesting tubers in South America and Japan.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Well, the mandarin for these tubers are (numbers behind are the pinyin)

Yu(4) Tou(2) (芋头) - Yam/Taro root

Fan (1) Shu (3) (番薯) - Sweet Potato

Mu (2) Shu (3) (木薯) - Tapioca/Cassava

edit: and for the heck of it

Ma(3) Ling(2) Shu (3) (马铃薯)- The good ole tater


Edited by His Nibs (log)

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And since the mid autumn festival is next week, time to start looking for some mini yams :raz:


Edited by His Nibs (log)

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As for the Malay names, my memory (and some "research") tells me:

cassava is ubi kayu

taro is ubi keladi

sweet potato is ubi keledek

Right you are, about the ubiquitous ubi, Laksa. Pan, potato is ubi kentang.

Incidentally, some people use ubi gendut interchangeably with ubi keledek for sweet potatoes, although gendut is actually a sweet potato variety. Some of you may well be familiar with the 'gendut'/explosive properties of sweet potatoes, which explains its name. :rolleyes:


TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Isn't there also a Japanese yam used to make shiritaki that isn't starchy at all? Where does this fit into the spectrum?


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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You might want to ask Brooks about this.  I understood that Louisiana sweet potato farmers got some sort of law passed way back when that allowed them to call their product "yams" even though, as you pointed out, true yams grow only in Africa.

I thought that some of you might find this sight interesting, as it is pretty much all you could possibly want to know about Louisiana Sweet Potatoesor Yams (the term is interchangable and it explains that as well on the page that I linked). This is a pretty interesting site.

Also, most of these are grown in East Carroll and West Carroll Parish. These are delta parishes, that are, in fact, two of the poorest counties/parishes in the United States. There are these HUGE farms all over the place and the sweet potato industry and hot sauce industry and associated pepper and spice growing are two of the ways that those people are trying to diversify out of cotton, rice, soybeans, and corn. The state is heavily involved in promoting these crops and products and it is slowly catching on.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Sweet Potatoes and Mascarpone Ice Cream

(Papas Dulces y Helado de Mascarpone)

Boil 1.6 kg. sweet potatoes (1 to 1and a half hours)

Peel and add sugar syrup (made with 1.2 Kg sugar and 1.2 litres water), vanilla pod and simmer 20 minutes.

Add agar-agar and simmer 10 minutes more.

Place sweet potatoes in blender and puree. Pour into wrap lined loaf pan(s) and chill.

Combine 1 and a half cup Mascarpone and 1 and a half cup sugar syrup (made with 1 cup each water and sugar). Chill and churn in ice cream maker. Just before end of churning, add half a cup lemon juice.

Turn out the slab of "Papas Dulces", slice and serve on individual dessert plates with a dollop of Helado de Mascarpone.


Edited by maremosso (log)

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Japan uses lots of tubers and most of them can be identified by the use of "imo" as an ending.

satoimo is the taro the Japanese prefer, thesea re small and round and about the size of a golf ball or a little bigger.

satsumaimo the sweet potato found in Japan is very pale fleshed and has a reddish-purplish skin, teh name comes from the Satsuma reguion of southern Jaapn through which they were introduced

beniimo is the purple fleshed sweet potato that comes from Okinawa

konnyaku imo is the tuber that konnyaku and shirataki are made from


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Yama imo.

Yama imo is often grated and mixed with flour and water to make okonomiyaki.

The term yama imo (yama = mountain, imo = potato) is used to refer to three types: Naga imo (naga = long), daisho, and jinenjo (wild yama imo).

1. Naga imo

Long ones are simply called naga imo. Watery and less sticky, so unsuitable for tororo.

Flat ones are called ichou imo (also called yamato imo (in Kanto), busshou imo, and tororo imo).

Fist-shaped ones are called tsukune imo (also called yamato imo (in Kansai)). The most sticky of the three types.

2. Daisho

Tropical yam. Rarely comes on the market.

3. Jinenjo (ji-nen-jo)

Native of Japan. Very sticky and tasty (and very expensive).

This information is mainly from the following site:

http://www.o-e-c.net/syokuzai/yamaimo.htm (Japanese only)

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Right you are, about the ubiquitous ubi, Laksa. Pan, potato is ubi kentang.

Right. Thank you. My memory did fail me.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Hi all, resurrecting this thread.... since I referred to this post in the one on Filipino cuisine, I thought I might as well add that

"Ube" is not the Tagalog word for "Taro".

"Taro" in Tagalog is "Gabi". "Ube" is our word for the purple yam (Dioscorea alata, or is it trifida? This one still confuses me.).


Edited by stef_foodie (log)

stefoodie.net - now a wheatless, eggless, dairyless food blog

noodlesandrice.com (with b5media)

bakingdelights.com (with b5media, and my 15-yo-dd)

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Hi all, resurrecting this thread.... since I referred to this post in the one on Filipino cuisine, I thought I might as well add that

"Ube" is not the Tagalog word for "Taro".

"Taro" in Tagalog is "Gabi".  "Ube" is our word for the purple yam (Dioscorea alata, or is it trifida?  This one still confuses me.).

Since Stef pointed me to this thread, I'm posting a reference page from Cook's Thesaurus on tubers.

English-Tagalog/Pampangueño names:

sweet potatoes = camote/camuti

cassava = camoteng kahoy/camuting dutung

purple yam = ube/ubi

taro = gabi/gandus

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"Taro" in Tagalog is "Gabi".  "Ube" is our word for the purple yam (Dioscorea alata, or is it trifida?  This one still confuses me.).

Almost a year later, I still haven't knowing eaten any tuber of the Dioscorea genus, and would love to try it.

This article states that D. alata is the species found in SE Asia while D. trifida is mainly found in Central and South America.

Most websites I've googled agree that Ube is indeed D. alata.

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To be more precise on Filipino root crops:

Scientific name / Common Name (English, Filipino)

Ipomoea batatas Sweet potato (E), Kamote (F)

Dioscorea alata Yam (E), Ubi (F)

Dioscorea esculenta Tugui (F)

Dioscorea hispida Nami (F)

Manihot esculenta Cassava (E), Kamoteng kahoy (F)

Colocasia esculenta Taro (E), Gabi (F)

Maranta arundinacea Arrow root (E), Uraro (F)

The above data is from a Philippine Department of Agriculture document.

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Purple yam is probably just a variety of both the Alata and Trifida species of the genus Dioscorea which have generally white tubers. It is known in India as Ratalu, Saint Vincent’s yam in Jamaica and Ubi in the Tagalog region of the Philippines. The colour and the intensity of its flavour actually ranges from very pale lilac to deep reddish purple (magenta).

It was a special Christmas festival food where I grew up (Bataan) and each family makes its own batch of jalea with mashed steamed or boiled purple yam, cow’s or coconut milk and sugar. The resulting chewy paste is them distributed among friends, neighbours and relatives. At Christmas morning we use to end up with a huge mound of jalea whose colours straddled the whole violet spectrum. We then blended then into a uniform mauve colour in a huge wok.

Buy the frozen chunks instead of the powder or the grated ones because when I opened my shop six years ago, I was thawing a whole box of the grated ones and all of the colour drained with the water. It was fake.


Edited by Apicio (log)

Gato ming gato miao busca la vida para comer

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Japanese Mountain Yams are also true yams. Botanically speaking, they are Dioscorea japonica.

There are true yam species native to both Asia and Africa.

-Erik


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Just to toss something else into the discussion:

in New Zealand we have something entirely different that we call Yams

They are Oxalis tuberosa Mol., Oxalidaceae ( Oca) which is a small wrinkled tuber which was a staple of the Andean Indians. They have a sweet and slightly nutty flavour and are fantastic roasted. Apparently it is one of the " lost crops of the Incas" .. and my favourite vegetable!

Picture here of Oca- New Zealand Yam but also something called Ulluco which have recently begun to appear on the market here and taste great. Lovely cooked like new potatos.

Sweet Potato here in NZ is known as Kumara ( a Maori word ) and there are Red, Gold and Orange varieties.

There are also more traditional Tubers known colloquially as Maori Potatoes.. these are small black tubers which taste like a potato but have bright purple flesh which retains it's colour when cooked. You can see them at the Massey University page in all their glory

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One of my favorite early spring time tubers is Jerusalem Artichoke or Sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosus). It is a tuber from a perennial (and somewhat invasive) member of the Sunflower family. They have a wonderful sweet nutty taste. Great in a gratin.

Another sunflower relative I've been meaning to try is Yacon or Bolivian Sunroot (Polymnia sonchifolia).

By the way, I've read that both of these plants store carbohydrates in a polymer of sucrose (inulin) that the human body cannot metabolize. So while they don't have much nutritive value, they are acceptable sweet or starchy treats for dieters and diabetics.

-Erik


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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