Have You Heard About Ube? Here Are 7 Things to Know

In the last few months, trend-watching bloggers have breathlessly declared ube, the sweet purple yam, to be “the new most Instagrammable food,” “the current flavor of the moment,” “Filipino America’s breakout food” and, reassuringly, “more than just a hipster trend.”

That’s not pure hyperbole. A search for “#ube” on Instagram yields almost 158,000 posts showing toothsome-looking images of just about everything you can imagine: cupcakes, cheesecakes, cookies, doughnuts, waffles, pancakes, lattes, rainbow-sprinkle-topped milkshakes and so much ice cream in shades of pale lavender, bruise-y plum, vivid violet and deep aubergine.

So what, aside from its lovely hue, should you know about ube? Here are a few things:

— The pretty purple yam is a staple dessert ingredient in the Philippines, where it’s often boiled and mashed, and commonly used for jams and puddings or to color sweet treats and breads.

— It has a smooth texture and a mild, sweet flavor that has been compared to white chocolate or a cross between vanilla and pistachio.

— Yes, that unearthly color is natural — you can see it as soon you slice into a raw tuber.

— No, it’s not the same as taro, although they are often confused. Taro, also a root vegetable, is actually a creamy white color, although it can turn purplish when cooked. Another very important difference: Taro contains calcium oxalate and is toxic when eaten raw.

— Ube’s current hot flame of fame stateside was fanned more than a year ago, when the Manila Social Club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, began offering a “Golden Cristal Ube Donut.” It is “adorned with icing made with Cristal champagne and filled with an ube mousse, champagne jelly, and covered with 24k Gold,” according to the Filipino restaurant’s Instagram account, at a cost of $100 per doughnut.

— If you’d like to know other places around the country to try ube treats, here are three.

— Or if you prefer to bake with ube, here’s a recipe for ube cupcakes to try. (Now you just have to find some ube.)

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Photo courtesy of @heyhoney

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