Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ube Jelaya: This one’s fried!

Ube Jelaya. What’s the fuzz, I asked myself when offered a serving at the Star Café of Kabayan Hotel Pasay.

Fried and wrapped it came on the table! And like with any other food offered to me, this fried ube jelaya (jam) may be worth the experience.

One spoonful of this vibrant purple jam that landed on my excited taste buds was enough to evoke thoughts on how this yam that thrives across Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, was cooked. Jane Andres of Kabayan Hotel Pasay ( my host) and I started recalling in a jiffy how town and barrio folks cooked it over medium-low flame with constant “arm-numbing stirring.” Family members would even take turns stirring the cooked ube mixture and the smell of firewood, that made it exotic, used to be evident in the jelaya. With all the cups of milk and sugar that are blended with the cooked ube, it is certainly a NO-NO food to diet conscious denizens. Surely, a spoonful wouldn’t hurt but with macapuno, it’s another story. And these were not among our meeting’s real agenda!

Anyway, there may be myriad ways, based on one’s culture, on how to deal with the manner of cooking or preparing this ube jelaya. What touched my palate is a recipe from Quezon province. Fried or simply painstakingly stirred for an hour or more until the pasty consistency is achieved, the ube jelaya is meant to be a star among our own Pinoy desserts.

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