To most Filipinos, Ube is the Prince of Tubers—a mildly sweet yam that is used in a variety of Filipino desserts such as ice cream, cakes, hopia, and halo-halo. Why is this yam just a prince and not a king? Well, besides its mildly sweet and earthy flavor, Ube is known for its strange hue that is mostly associated with “The Artist Formerly (Currently) Known As”...
(Of course that's Prince. Don't argue with me! I know "The Artist" when I sees him!)
Yes, folks. Whenever I think of Ube, I think of Prince. Or whenever I think of Prince, I think of Ube. Do with that information as you wish, but I think it’s a natural thought progression (as I’ve stated in this space before: I AM NOT CRAZY!).
The picture above is of grated Ube I bought from the Asian market (Ube comes frozen, so you have to thaw it out first). And no, I didn’t Photoshop or mess with the color in any way. Ube is naturally uber purple. It’s not as sweet as a sweet potato or yam, but Ube are definitely sweeter than a regular boiling or baking potato. As such, it is the yam of choice for both Pinoys (positively) and The Purple One (perhaps).
For those that do not know very much about Prince (heathens!), let me explain a few tidbits about The Artist:
Prince loves playing basketball.
And after destroying his opponents on the court,
Prince loves to serve them pancakes.
Dude, so shocking, I know. But it’s all true. If you don’t believe any of this, you can see proof right here.
Ah, Chappelle's Show. It's a classic.
Anyhoo, after watching many and many a rerun of that "Prince" skit, a moment of clarity and inspiration hit me as if I purified myself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka (wha?). I heard the booming voice of Prince calling out to me:
"Marvin. This bores me. Make some purple pancakes. Oohhwhoo!"
So that's what I did. I made some purple pancakes for The Purple One. I made Purple Ube Pancakes. Oohhwhoo!
Ok, that's actually a bit of a lie. I thought of the idea of Purple Ube Pancakes, and my wife made them. She's the bestest pancake maker in all the land, and I love her buttermilk pancakes (And that's not a euphemism for something else. Ok, maybe it is). She makes her pancakes from scratch and not from that stuff in the box (not that there's anything wrong with the boxed stuff).
Coming up with the recipe for Ube Pancakes was very difficult and hurt my brain: I added a cup of the grated Ube to my wife's pancake batter. Science of Rockets!
After whisking the purple yam into the pancake batter, we poured CD-sized (Purple Rain, of course) circles onto a hot and well-greased griddle. The sizzle of the pancake batter sounded very familiar to me: "This is what it must sound like when doves cry!" I said out loud.
I don't know why, but my wife was perplexed by this outburst. Strange, that.
As I mentioned earlier, Ube (pronounced ooh-bay) have a very mild flavor, so a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the purple pancakes would probably be a better choice than maple syrup. But that's just me. Either way, these Purple Ube Pancakes would probably please Prince (sorry, I couldn't help it). They were thin, moist, buttery, golden on the outside, and purple on the inside.
Although the Purple One didn't serve his crestfallen foes Ube pancakes, per se, I like to think that he did.
Purple Ube Pancakes
Yield: 10-12 pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup grated purple yam (frozen Ube can be found in Asian markets)
In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the buttermilk and the egg to the dry mixture and whisk just until combined.
Add the Ube to the pancake batter, and mix just until combined.
Pour the Ube pancake batter, to the desired pancake size, onto a well-greased griddle over medium heat. Continue to cook the pancakes on the first side just until small bubbles form on the outer edges of the pancakes, about 3-4 minutes.
Flip the pancakes to the second side and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.