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Mashed Okinawa Purple Sweet Potato

Recipe submitted by Campfire Dan


The Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato has a lovely purple flesh just full of those same antioxidants you find in blueberries. Freshly cut it is a light bluish-rose with white streaks. It darkens as it cooks to a deep purple. The flavor is delicately sweet with none of the carroty taste of orange sweet potatoes. It is a favorite at Hawaiian luaus so it is sometimes called “Hawaiian Sweet Potato”. The plant grows rampant like most viney sweet potatoes (it is definitely not a “bush” type) so it is a nice ground cover.

This recipe is probably too simple to call a recipe. But then again, most everything I cook is rather simple or I wouldn’t cook it. And it is vegetarian – or can be vegan if you prefer.

One large Purple Sweet Potato or a few small ones
Vegan or other margarine or cheddar cheese or vegan cheese sauce.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into cubes.


Microwave with a bit of water in a covered microwave-safe glass bowl. You can also boil them but that loses some of the antioxidants in the cooking water. Mash and serve with vegan or regular margarine. For non-vegan vegetarians melted cheddar cheese is a remarkably tasty topping for this sweet potato. You can also make a quick vegan cheese sauce that goes well with this dish. Just add some vegetarian nutritional yeast (the stuff with B-12) to vegan margarine and heat in the microwave. Pour over the mashed potatoes when serving.


You can see from the picture of the final mashed product that this sweet potato is stupendous for coloring up the holiday table. Think mounds of orange and purple mashed sweet potato side by side with maybe a tad of deep red cranberry sauce on the plate as a garnish.

I have also made purple sweet potato chips from them (slice thin and deep fry). The possibilities are endless. There are all sorts of on-line recipes for this lovely tuber since it is so popular in Japan and Hawaii. Search for Hawaiian, Okinawan, Japanese or Purple Sweet Potato Recipes. There is even an ice cream recipe that uses this instead of the tropical yam “Ube.” An interesting recipe I found recently is purple sweet potato pie with caramelized macadamia nuts at the online magazine Asiance: (http://asiancemagazine.com/nov_2006/ingredient_for_the_holidays_okinawan_purple_sweet_potatoes)
Sounds incredible but way too complicated for my klutzy kitchen skills.

I grow these anywhere I want to smother weeds and they seem to grow fine here just north of Gainesville. If I leave them in the ground too long voles eat them and all I get when I dig are big succulent empty peels (curses, voled again!)

If you don’t grow your own you can sometimes find this sweet potato locally at the Chun Ching market in Gainesville on NW 8th Avenue near NW 6th Street. It is also available by the crate from Mellissa’s Produce (http://www.melissas.com/). But the ones from these sources I’ve tried are irradiated so you won’t be able to get cuttings from then that will grow.

Some health food stores and Asian food stores offer purple sweet potato powder which is supposed to be good for the purple ice cream recipes but fresh is always better!

Campfire Dan

9 comments to Mashed Okinawa Purple Sweet Potato

  • Jerry

    Do you have cuttings to root this potato. I’ve been looking everywhere and can’t get them for gainesville

  • Campfire Dan

    Hi Jerry,
    I answered your question on our forums page under “Locating.” Click the “Forums” button in the banner above this page to get there.


  • clint collard

    I just received 30 lbs from hawaii via fedex just looking for more receipes

  • this is a variety of S. American Sweet potato that was impoted to Okinawa via China from Spaniards….. History Geek…. sorry. I am from Titusville FL and have seen these growing wild in the woods in sandy soil areas with lots of Palmettos.

  • Dear Sirs:
    I would like to know where I can buy some purple SPs and also I would like to know where I can find some slips to plant. I had some in Hawaii and loved them. I live in the S.F bay area. Please help Me. 650 322 7757.. Velma Mitchell ..My e mail collardlady2aol.com

  • I would like to know where I can fine purple Sps to buy and also some to plant. I live in the San francisco Bay area. Please help. My phone is 650 322 7757. Velma Mitchell 6/5/2009

  • Dan Culbertson

    Hello Velma, I believe you can get the Okinawa Sweet Potato by the case from Melissa’s Produce in LA – you can order it online at http://www.melissas.com/ . The slips are sold (in season) at Sandhill Preservation Center http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/pages/sweetpotato_catalog.html . Off season (after the spring) you can buy a potted plant from Glasshouse Works in Ohio http://www.glasshouseworks.com/trop-ij.html (scroll down to “IPOMEA BATATAS PURPLE TUBER.” The plant will grow quickly and you can take slips from it as needed. It takes quite a long season for this variety to produce tubers so it is probably too late for this year in your area fr a large harvest but you can get a bunch of small tubers and hold them over the winter so you will have them ready to plant next spring.

  • Dan Culbertson

    Availability notice for folks in the Gainesville Florida area. — I have seen this sweet potato for sale in the Chun Ching market in Gainesville on 8th avenue near 6th street. They don’t sprout since they have been radiated (I think) but they are good eating and that is the only place I’ve seen them for sale. Hopefully some of the people I’ve given starts to will start selling the tubers at the Farmer’s Market. I occasionally (not often) bring slips in to sell at our EPP first Wednesday of the month appearances at the Union Street (aka “Downtown Gainesville”) farmer’s market. If you would like to try growing this and are in the local area contact me (Dan Culbertson) at the email under the Contact tab and I’ll be sure to bring some stem cuttings in to the next market. Unfortunately I am not able to ship them so people out of the Gainesville area will have to order them from one of the two commercial on-line sources mentioned in my previous post.

  • jj

    You can also find tasty Okinawan Purple Sweet Potatoes at http://www.hawaiifsp.com

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