There they all, all purpley and wonderful.
Today’s post is a throwback to when I said I was going to do a ten-week series on the Filipino food that was cooked and loved at the orphanage we worked at last year, but then I only got through eight weeks because LIFE. So my goal in May is to finish out the last two recipes that I have stored up and, in the process, remind myself of all the sweet things I loved about life in the Philippines.
Road trips on motorcycle.
Little laughter all around.
And now, to add to the list of wonderful: camotes.
I would describe camotes as a Filipino root vegetable that is some kind of a cross between a yam and a “orange sweet potato” like we’re used to here in the US. They are starchy and a little bit sweet and perfect for frying. Not that I love frying foods or anything.
The Sun Star (a Filipino newspaper) describes them like dis:
“Its starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable… 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… 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.”
Mashed and boiled, cut into strips and fried, coated in brown sugar and caramelized (kind of like the banana cue) or made into little fritters and sprinkled with sugar, like so – all of it will make you happy.
Camotes could basically be everyone’s perfect snack.
The day I brought my class to the houses to make these with the aunties in one of the houses, it was so so so hot. Wait, that’s every day in the Philippines. But I swear this day was extra hot. Supposedly this was a cooking lesson (for me and them!) and luckily I think my students were a) immune to the heat and b) in love with Camote Fritters because they just dove right in with the grating, rinsing, stirring, frying, flipping, sprinkling, and eating.
Why is it that even in the hottest of hottness of all the hot, it’s still good to eat fried potatoes? I don’t even know, but it’s for real.
The weird thing about being back home in the US – we’re coming up on the one year mark! what the what! – is that almost every day I think about how thankful I am to be wearing a sweatshirt, drinking safe water, and walking around on a sidewalk with green grass and lakes and clean air all around me. There are some beautiful things about this Minnesota-land. But yet there’s this little piece of my heart that is just aching to go back to the heat, the sweat, the dirt, the intensely gorgeous sunsets, the lizards running around in your kitchen, the motorcycle, and the love that is CSC.
Someday soon, I hope.
Someday real soon.
These sugary camote fritters were a popular snack made by the aunties at the Filipino orphanage we lived and worked at for a year!
- 2 cups peeled and grated camote (sweet potato)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- oil for frying
- white sugar for dusting
- Peel, grate, and rinse the camotes. Combine in a large bowl with the brown sugar, flour, and vanilla.
- Pour a thin layer of oil into a large pan (see picture). Bring the oil to a medium high heat. Drop the camote mixture by spoonfuls into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar before serving.