So I'm finally done with talking about the foods and drinks from Washington D.C.'s Union Market. Ha! Just kidding--there's still many more, including the one for this post.
Olluco, aka ulluku, chugua, ruba, milluku, and others, is a very important crop in the Andes region of South America. Especially in Peru. In fact, it's second in importance to the potato. The tuber is the main part eaten, but the leaves of the plant are also edible. Olluco is actually based on the Quechua term for tuber--ullucu. It's believed to have been first cultivated in Peru, and was a key food source for the Incan Empire.
At a glance, ollucos look like a small, slightly weird colored potato. They range from orange to yellow mostly, although some are red or even pink. They also commonly have red/pink/purple "freckles" on them. Unlike the potato, they have a fairly substantial water content, meaning they're not very good for frying or baking. Healthwise, they're a good source of Vitamin C, and also have some iron and fiber. For dieters they're not a bad choice, either--my 20 ounce can (560 gram) can was only about 200 calories, total.
My ollucos came right from the motherland--Peru. Specifically from Inca's Food, and then imported into the U.S. by PEIMCO (stands for Peru Import Company, Inc.) out of New Jersey. They were a light brown in color, with brownish freckles. (I assume they were originally yellowish or orange, and they turned brown due to the canning process.) Each one was about 2-3 inches long (about 5-7 cm.), and about an inch wide (or about 2.5 cm.) Recipes advocated cooking them, usually with meat and other vegetables. But, I was feeling lazy, so I just sliced them up and stuck them in the microwave. Their water content was easily recognized--after only 30 seconds they started sizzling. Once this was done I tried some plain, some with salt, and some with ketchup. I thought they tasted very similar to potatoes, which is a compliment. The salt and ketchup helped, but plain was decent, too. I'll certainly be willing to give ollucos another try, if I can find them. (This might well be possible only with a return trip to the Union Market, but we'll see.) The price was reasonable as well--about $2 for the can, as I recall. Although next time I think I will attempt to cook them up with some meat and veggies, to get the full effect.
Also, my internet access might be very spotty next week. I'll try to post on time, but it's possible it might be delayed for a few days.