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The Ubi Badak is a large tuber with rough, dusty brown to gray skin. Its exterior skin additionally often displays thin, straggly hairs between one and three inches in length which are the petite roots of the tuber. Its shape is slightly round to ovate with irregular lumps and bumps. Underneath its rough exterior lies a densely textured flesh which features hues of violet, purple, and creamy white. There are technically two different types of Ubi Badak, an all-white fleshed and a purple and white fleshed variety as pictured here. The leaves of the Ubi Badak vine are broad to ovate, growing opposite one another on non-woody stems with some leaves positioned alternate towards the base of the plant. When cooked the tuber itself offers a starchy texture and subtly sweet yam flavor with nuances of chestnut. Tubers for consumption are typically harvested at the end of their season when about four inches in length. If left on the plant, however, the Ubi Badak tubers will continue to grow year after year and can grow to be as large as six to eight feet in length.
Ubi Badak are available year-round with a peak season in late summer through late spring.
The Ubi Badak is a Malaysian variety of yam and a member of the Dioscoreaceae family, which houses predominantly perennial herbaceous vines. There are two botanical groups that stem from Southeast Asia; Dioscorea alata and Dioscorea esculenta. The Ubi Badak is a member of Dioscorea alata a botanical group formerly known as Dioscorea spiculata. Also known as Winged yam or Water yam in English, Tai Shu in Hakka, and Mao shu, Shen Shu or Fake Chinese yam in Mandarin.
Ubi Badak provides an excellent source of dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, and naturally occurring antioxidants.
Ubi Badak can be used in a variety of cooked applications. Typically they are peeled before use though they can be roasted within their skins. Peeled Ubi Badak can be steamed, boiled and baked. One of the most popular uses for Ubi Badak is cooked, pureed and added to desserts, savory snacks, and baked goods. Both pureed and cubed Ubi Badak is also a popular addition to soups and puddings. Ubi Badak can also be pounded down to make flour. Ubi Badak will keep for up to two weeks when stored in a cool, dark place. Refrigeration should be avoided as this will cause them to lose flavor and spoil faster. While storing sunlight and plastic bags should be avoided as well to prevent the yams from sprouting.
In 2009 the Ubi Badak was featured on a Malaysian stamp as part of a collection of stamps featuring the root crops of Malaysia. Ubi Badak is a popular ingredient in some traditional kuih preparations, both sweet and savory such as ondeh-ondeh (round ball shaped cakes). Kuih’s are a popular snack food in Malaysia and are enjoyed in a fashion similar to that of tapas in Spain.
Yams are believed to date as far back as the beginning of the Jurassic era when South America and Asia had yet to separate. The Ubi Badak specifically is thought to have originated several thousand years ago in southeastern Asia, potentially as a result of hybridization. Tuber crops such as the Ubi Badak have long been an important yam variety and food staple in the Malaysian diet. During food shortages such as that which occurred during World War II the Ubi Badak provided a source of sustenance at a time when adequate rice supply was difficult to find. Today the Ubi Badak remains a popular ingredient though less as a nutritional necessity and more so for enjoyment of its flavor in sacks and desserts, particularly as an ingredient in kuih. Today Ubi Badak can be found growing in various parts of tropical and sub-tropical Asia. It was first introduced to the southeastern United States by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 1500s but never became a cultivated crop. Rather it became a wild plant growing in the marshes of Georgia, Florida and parts of Louisiana and today is classified as a noxious weed in the state of Florida.
Recipes that include Ubi Badak. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Kari Leafs||Purple Yam Cake|
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