WHAT IS TARO?
Taro is a starchy root vegetable that comes from a tropical plant that is similar to a potato – but it can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It is used worldwide in many different cuisines and can be cooked pretty much any way! (Steamed, Fried, Boiled, Grilled etc)
HOW IS IT USED?
Taro must ALWAYS be cooked well done. In its raw form, it contains calcium oxalate which can cause kidney stones or gout. Cooking it removes it.
Like a potato, taro is a very versatile starchy root vegetable. It is widely used all over the world in every type of international cuisine so you can be very creative with it.
This type of ingredient can be boiled, grilled (must be cooked well done), deep fried, steamed or mashed. Taro is also not just limited to savoury dishes and is very commonly used in sweet dishes in Asia as well! 🙂
Protect Your Skin When Touching Taro
Taro contains high amounts of Oxalic Acid, which can irritate and cause your skin to be itchy if you have sensitive skin. When you are working with it, it can get unwieldy so I like to wrap a towel or dish rag around the area I need to hold before I start peeling it or cutting it up. If it’s easier, you can also use gloves. I have read tips to use oil on your skin as a barrier, but I personally don’t recommend it – using this method made the taro very slippery while I was working with it and the taro slipped a few times which caused a few knicks and cuts on my hand.
A close but not exact substitution would be a potato. Taro has a nuttier flavour than a potato, and it is also slightly more creamy as well.
WHERE DO I FIND IT?
This is most commonly found in Asian and Indian grocery stores and sometimes at specialty grocery stores as well but lately I have found this to be more and more common and have found it at my local grocery stores as well.
When you are picking out taro, make sure it is free of mold and cracks. It should be firm and not show signs of shriveling or wrinkling. Cracking and shriveled up taro is an indicator that it may be drying out.
There is a very very slight sweetness to taro, with a bit of a nutty flavour. Otherwise it is similar to a potato.
Taro has a lot of similarity as a normal potato when it comes to it’s texture. The main difference I notice between a regular potato and taro, is that taro has a bit more of a creamy texture and is a lot less ‘starchy\grainy’.
I like to keep my taro in a dry cool dark place. Sometimes I keep it out on the counter in a very well ventilated basket, but I will use it within 2 days if I do. Never rest it on any kind of plastic, it will cause moisture and form mold. I never had much success keeping it in the fridge as well, since it usually causes moisture to form on the taro, which then produces a lot of mold. It is usually easier to just use it as soon as possible when you bring it home from the store.