Camote

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012


THE Frugal Housewife went to market and guess what she came home with? The nicest food and quite inexpensive camote. Camote in the City of Baguio comes from the low regions, the Ilocos and other surrounding lower portions of Benguet.

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens.

Although the softer, orange variety is often called a yam in parts of North America, the sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the other vegetable called a yam, which is native to Africa and Asia and belongs to the monocot family Dioscoreaceae.

In certain parts of the world, sweet potatoes are locally known as camote, kamote, man thet, ubi jalar, ubi keladi, shakarkand, satsuma imo, batata or el boniato. In the Philippines, we call them camote.

Sweet potatoes very early became popular in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, spreading from Polynesia to Japan and the Philippines.

Culinary Use

Japanese pastry

Although the leaves and shoots are also edible, the starchy tuberous roots are by far the most important product. In some tropical areas, they are a staple food crop.

Asia

In China, sweet potatoes, typically of the yellow variety, are baked in a large iron drum, and sold as street food during winter. In Japan, this is called yaki-imo (roasted sweet potato), which typically uses either the yellow-fleshed Japanese sweet potato or the purple-fleshed (Okinawan) sweet potato.

Sweet potato soup, a Chinese tong sui (sweet soup) served during winter, consists of boiling sweet potato in water with rock sugar and ginger. Sweet potato greens are a common side dish in northeastern Chinese cuisine, sweet potatoes are often cut into chunks and fried, before being drenched into a pan of boiling syrup.

In the Philippines, sweet potatoes (locally known as camote or kamote) are an important food crop in rural areas. It has now come to pass that the most urban areas such as Baguio have camote as a staple and or a side dish and or a sweet such as for dessert.

The tubers are boiled or baked in coals and may be dipped in sugar or syrup. Young leaves and shoots (locally known as talbos ng kamote or camote tops) are eaten fresh in salads with shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) or fish sauce. They can be cooked in vinegar and soy sauce and served with fried fish (a dish known asadobong talbos ng kamote), or with recipes such as sinigang. The stew obtained from boiling camote tops is purple-colored, and is often mixed with lemon as juice. Sweet potatoes are also sold as street food in suburban and rural areas. Fried sweet potatoes coated with caramelized sugar and served in skewers (camote cue) are popular afternoon snacks.

Sweet potatoes are also used in a variant of halo-halo called ginatan, where they are cooked in coconut milk and sugar and mixed with a variety of rootcrops, sago, jackfruit and bilu-bilo (glutinous rice balls). Bread made from sweet potato flour is also gaining popularity. Sweet potato is relatively easy to propagate, and in rural areas that can be seen abundantly at canals and dikes.

And now the Baguio market is awash with camote. At P15 to P20 per kilo what else can the Frugal Housewife ask for?

So try for 2 kilos and let’s try the following recipes.

Use one and a half kilo for candied camote and the half kilo for the very popular ukoy.

To make candied camote...

You will need

1. one and one half kilo of the small orange variety, peeled and cut into bigger than your thumb. Do not make the pieces too small. Make the sizes even and uniform so that the cooking time will be all the same.

2. one third kilo of light brown sugar.

3. 2 tablespoons of any kind of syrup, maple, karo, any will do.

4. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

5. 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon

6. one and a half cup of water

To make, Use a pot which will take the one and half kilos of peeled and sliced camote. Cover the camote to the top with water and bring to a fast boil. Boil for no longer than 2 minutes and quickly drain the camote Remove all the water. The camote should not be thoroughly cooked. I should be difficult to pierce with a fork.

Now in a pan 9 by 13, and pour about one and one half of water. Add the sugar, syrup and cinnamon. Lay the camote in this pan. Try to make the camote one only one layer. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake in a 375 degree over. Alternatively, you may cook it on the top of a stove. Set the pan on the stove and bring the camote to a boil. Boil on low heat till the camote is pierceable with a fork about 30 minutes. Remove from the stove and take off the aluminum cover. Cool being serving as a dessert or merienda.

To use the other half kilo of camote, we are going to make ukoy. This is a dish which can also be served with rice or as a merienda.

You will need:

1. one kilo of camote coarsely grated

2. the same amount of mongo sprouts, by volume, so if you have 3 cups of camote you will also need 3 cups of sprouts.

3. half cup of chopped onions.

4. 2 cups of all-purpose flour

5. 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

6. 1 egg beaten

7. water

8. cooking oil for frying

9. 1 fourth kilo of shrimps, peeled carefully, with tail and head intact.

10. salt and pepper to taste,

11. one tablespoon of liquid seasoning

To make... Make a batter with the flour, baking powder egg and water. Gently mix in the grated camote and the sprouts, and the rest of the seasonings. Heat the oil use approximately one inch in a largish flat frying pan. When the oil is hot, ladle one fourth cup of batter into the oil. Top the batter with a shrimp. Cook till brown on the sides and then turn. When the shrimp is done, about one minute, turn and remove from the pan. Drain on paper or drip in a colander. Keep warm while you fry the rest of the ukoy. Serve with rice or as pica pica. Use as a dip vinegar and crushed garlic.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 14, 2012.

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