All the potato goodness

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Friday, February 14, 2014

THERE'S something about potatoes. A piece the size of a computer mouse is at least packed with 45 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 110 calories, vitamin B, fiber and complex carbohydrates. More than a banana, the non-fat crop ranks highest in potassium content.

Potatoes originated from Peru. The root veggie was domesticated in sandy soils, of cold nights and warm days. Of the 23,000 different kinds, two to three are commercially grown. Common in the market are the russets, red, white, yellow, and specialty types such as fingerlings.

There’s so much experiment one can do with potatoes. Executive chef Raki Urbina of Laguna Garden Café in Ayala Center Cebu, for example, did a mash-up of potatoes with disparate recipes last Feb. 3 at the first restaurant leg of the US Potato Safari in Cebu organized by the United States Potato Board (USPB), America’s potato marketing outfit since 1971 based in Denver, Colorado.


The three-day series (Feb. 3-5)was an exhibit of the finest and tastiest US frozen potato creations in Filipino, Mediterranean and seafood dishes, among others.
The event was set to spread awareness among local industry players on the importance and twist of potatoes in food offerings.

It featured talks from USPB international marketing manager Susan Weller and a showcase of all-new potato fare for lunch and dinner from notable hotel and resto chefs in the city.

Chef Raki’s lunch menu that Monday began with Patatas Tinapa Croquetas with Pako Salad. A piece of croquette formed from mashed potato, tinapa flakes, beaten eggs, lime juice and cilantro graced the salad assembly of romaine greens, tomato, bean sprouts and lychee among others. A mixture of fish sauce, honey, lime juice and cilantro dressed the healthy starter.

Okoy de Patatas encouraged the appetite. The Filipino shrimp fritter was a combo of grated camote, kalabasa, carrots, taogi, potatoes and shrimps. Chef Raki’s take was served with vinegar-garlic dipping sauce.

The main dish was beef cocido paired with baked adobo potato and eggplant relish. A bowl of rice was also served on the side just in case the diner didn’t realize the recipe was already a complete meal. Sure, the presence of potato was enough carbo.

Ube-Patatas Halaya and Buchi Patatas with creamy yogurt melting over fresh fruits wrapped day one of the US Potato Safari.

According to Weller, a 1991 study from the American Frozen Food Institute of the University of Illinois revealed that frozen vegetables such as potatoes have locked in nutritional value on par with fresh picks. She related that with standard temperature of 18 degrees Celsius or lower, freezing doesn’t injure vitamin C, thiamin and other nutrients in potatoes; air exposure does. Weller said frozen produce are labeled as healthy in the US.

Meanwhile, deemed as an important market, the Philippines is the second largest export destination in South East Asia and the eight worldwide for US frozen potatoes. Weller shared that approximately 34,000 metric tons was shipped to the country in 2012. That’s about 3.7 percent of all US exports.

The US Potato Safari was also participated in by Marco Polo Plaza Hotel (MPPH), Anzani New Mediterranean Restaurant and Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort. The experience culminated with a luncheon at MPPH prepared by USPB consultant, chef Sau del Rosario himself.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 15, 2014.


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