Autumn is finally upon us! The chill in the air, the leaves start to fall, and the bounty of the harvest, it is the perfect time for warm season goodies. In Hong Kong, many seasonal fall produce contains sweet, fibrous flesh where you can easily cook and indulge your sweet tooth. And the first thing that comes to my mind is sweet potato, a popular seasonal produce for traditional Chinese desserts.

Not only is sweet potato incredibly delicious, it is very nutritious with good therapeutic efficacy. Moreover, it is currently available for harvest in many local organic farms. Four general varieties can be found in Hong Kong with different skin and flesh colors including purple skin with purple flesh, purple skin with yellow flesh, purple skin with orange flesh, and white skin with white flesh. Other than color difference, all varieties are also varied in taste, textures and medicinal value as noted below.

White Sweet Potato
Often labeled as the “medicinal” sweet potato, its white flesh is less sweet and relatively dry. When cooked, it has a crumbly powder texture, similar to a baking potato. If store for a short “sweetening” period of two weeks after the harvest, its flesh will be much sweeter, and contain higher medicinal value.  

It is known that long-term consumption of white sweet potatoes can improve liver function; it contains oligosaccharides that can help lower blood pressure and stabilizes Blood Glucose Index. It can also improve glycemic control and enhance insulin sensitivity in patients with type II diabetes.

Purple Sweet Potato
With a slightly sweet taste and a crumbly powder texture, it is rich in anthocyanins that can improve vision and reduce eye fatigue. Its relatively high content of anthocyanins can also effectively prevent atherosclerosis and vision degradation, plus significantly improve the functioning of the liver.

Orange Sweet Potato
The sweetest among other varieties in Hong Kong, its powdery flesh has higher moisture content which melts in your mouth. It is rich in vitamin A and carotene that can effectively prevent night blindness, dry eye, plus help improve vision.

Yellow Sweet Potato
Having a slightly sweet flavour and aroma, it has lower moisture content and a texture that is more powdery than purple sweet potato. It is rich in vitamin B and carotene with anti-cancer properties. Its anti-oxidation can help maintain eye health and improve the anxiety or memory loss.

No matter what color the sweet potato is, its flesh and skin is highly nutritious. You should eat your sweet potato unpeeled whenever possible because the skin is a natural beauty ingredient with three times higher antioxidant levels than the flesh. For the best nutritional value, you can cook all sweet potato varieties in a traditional Chinese sweet soup. If you prefer something less sweet, you can use white sweet potato to cook regular Chinese soup. You can also bake sweet potato in jackets or cut into cubes for roasting to tone down the sweetness. So let’s cozy up with one of our suggested cooking methods to kick start the season with a warm and nourishing meal!