The Beni Imo
The plant grows in many parts of Okinawa, mostly in Yomitan Village located on the west coast. The striking purple color of the sweet potato comes from the same element that gives the violet color to red cabbage and blueberries. This superfood is rich in fiber and is also loaded in vitamin C and vitamin A.
Although it shares the same color as taro, it shouldn’t be confused with Sato Imo. Taro has a whiter appearance and has a different texture that Beni Imo. Although it looks alike, its flavor profile also differs significantly since Beni Imo is very sweet and has a creamy texture, which is why locals usually eat it as a dessert.
It was originally native to America but was brought to Japan between 1492 and 1605. Because the plant was cultivated well in the country, it became a popular ingredient to many dishes. Aside from Japan, it can also be widely found in Hawaii where it is known as Uala. Hawaii and Japan provide the best growing conditions for the Beni Imo thanks to its rich volcanic soil. Despite being present in Hawaii, it is usually uncommon to find it in US supermarkets and farmer’s markets in other states.