There’s a surprise hiding underneath the pale skin of Hawaiian (or Okinawan) sweet potatoes. Cut one open and you’ll find the flesh is purple; when cooked, the color deepens. It’s believed that early Japanese settlers first brought these potatoes to the Islands and used them as a staple in their diet. The tubers still flourish in Hawaii and recently have become available on the mainland.
Hawaiian sweet potatoes have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. We like them scrubbed, baked whole, split, and topped with coconut milk (not light) or sour cream, toasted shredded coconut, and chopped salted, roasted macadamia nuts or peanuts. Look for Hawaiian or Okinawan sweet potatoes in supermarkets that sell specialty produce or in Asian markets. If you have trouble finding the purple potato, this combination of coconut and nuts tastes great on your basic orange sweet potato too.