Three of my ultimate staples, especially in the winter, are Japanese sweet potatoes, Hawaiian sweet potatoes, and kabocha squash. All three are sweet, dense, comforting, and filling while packing in a ton of nutritional benefits, such as beta carotene (vitamin A), fiber, and antioxidants, the Hawaiian sweet potatoes in particular being incredibly antioxidant rich due to its deep purple hue. Below I have provided instructions on a simple roasting method for each of the three. Other than enjoying the roasted starches as they are as part of a meal or snack, as I commonly do, you can also add sweet toppings such as nut butter, nuts/seeds, banana slices, berries, jam, and cinnamon, or savory toppings such as avocado, hummus, beans, roasted mushrooms, and sautéed spinach.
Japanese Sweet Potatoes
Firstly, the Japanese sweet potato is purple on the outside and cream colored on the inside. It is denser, starchier, and sweeter than the orange-colored variety. Some describe its taste to be reminiscent of vanilla cake, with a hint of chestnut flavor. While called Japanese sweet potatoes, these are commonly found throughout many Asian countries, including Korea and China, and can be found at your local Asian market or health food store such as Whole Foods, or even Trader Joes, where they are called Murasaki sweet potatoes.
Roasted Japanese Sweet Potato Recipe:
1.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F then wash and dry Japanese sweet potatoes.
2.Place the potatoes onto a baking tray and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until soft and caramelized, poking a few holes at the 45 to 60 minute mark, which helps with caramelization.
Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes
Next, the Hawaiian sweet potato, also called the Okinawan sweet potato, has a grayish exterior and a beautiful purple interior. This variety is even denser, drier, and starchier than the Japanese sweet potato, but tastes very sweet with a slight honey, floral flavor. This variety may be more difficult to find, but can be found at your local Asian market or shipped online from Hawaii Veggie Farm (https://www.hawaiiveggiefarm.com/).
Roasted Hawaiian Sweet Potato Recipe:
1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F then wash and dry Hawaiian sweet potatoes. Wrap the potatoes in tinfoil, which helps preserve moisture in these otherwise drier potatoes.
2.Place the potatoes onto a baking tray and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until soft. If potatoes are larger and need a little extra time after that mark, turn off the oven and leave the potatoes in for another 15 to 30 minutes.
Finally, the Kabocha squash is a winter squash variety commonly found in many Asian countries like Korea and Japan. It is shaped like a pumpkin, with a deep green exterior mottled with white and light green and a butternut squash-colored interior. While sweet, it is not as sweet as the starches described above, with a little savory, earthy, chestnut-like flavor to balance it out. In terms of texture, it is quite smooth, creamy, and dense. You can also find this squash at your local Asian market or health food store like Whole Foods.
Roasted Kabocha Squash Recipe:
1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F then wash and dry the Kabocha squash.
2.Place the squash onto a baking tray and bake whole for 20 minutes.
3. Take the squash out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes, then cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and fiber, then cut into wedges. Optionally sprinkle with cinnamon, which helps bring out the sweet flavor.
4. Place the wedges back in the oven for another 40 minutes or so, flipping halfway through, or until squash is tender and golden brown.