Taro 芋頭
Monday October 26th, 2015 / Root & Rhizome

Taro  (芋頭)

Taro is a root plant, and a perennial member of the Arum family. Native to Asia, Taro is one of the most popular edible root vegetables in this continent. Taros come in several varieties, of which will be discussed below. However, the majority of Taros are large root vegetables, resembling that of potatoes. They also often have heart-shaped leaves.

Although Taros are similar to potatoes, they have different flavours and textures. Appearance wise, there are two prominent types of Tarro. There are those which are small, growing to around 1-2 inches in diameter; and large Tarros, which grow to 4inches in diameter. Both of these Taro varieties are egg-shaped with dark brown skin.The inside flesh of Tarros reveals a solid interior, which is white with purple flecks of colours.

Tarros are more common during the winter, however, they can be available sporadically throughout the year making them an accessible root vegtable.

Taros are extremely nutritious, and the leaves are especially a great source of vitamins such as A and C, whilst the roots contain vitamins C, E and B. Taro are also gluten-free, encompassing high levels of fiber. Despite the similarities to potatoes, Taros are in fact healthier. Taros additionally has low Glycemic index, meaning that taros effects blood sugar levels slowly, making it the perfect vegetable to help prevent diabetes. Due to the sheer nutritional value of Taros, many athletes incorporate them into their diet due to their long lasting energy.

However, it must be noted that one should not eat Taros raw. To prepare the Taro, all you need to do is rinse and wash, peel and chop as desired. The Taro leaves should also be washed and drained, however try to be delicate as to attempt to keep as much freshness as possible.

Taros are incredible versatile, and can be cooked in a variety of ways. They have a nutty flavor when cooked. In many ways, Taros can be a substitute for potatoes. After they have been washed and peeled, they can then be boiled, baked and fried. Additionally, they could be used within casseroles. However, taros could also be eaten out of the hand as long as they are peeled and cooked properly first. A classic variant of chips can be made, substituting Taro instead of potatoes, making them an extremely healthy snack.

In traditional Chinese cuisine, Taros are commonly used as a main course, often along side meats. Furthermore, Taros are also surprisingly used within deserts, for example they are used in tong sui, which is also known as bubble tea. They are also used in ice cream for flavouring. After the Chinese New Year, people often seek out Taros to make a savoury pudding, which has similarities to radish pudding.