What is taro and what does it taste like? If you’re recently having these thoughts and can’t seem to get them out of your mind, then you’ve come to the right place. Like you, I have wondered about what taro looks like and what it actually tastes like without any of the additional flavours of bubble tea.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore taro bubble tea, but it is satisfying knowing things about the main ingredient of my favorite beverage. I’ve written this article to answer any taro-related questions you might have and tell you what taro actually tastes like.
What is Taro?
Taro is a root crop endemic to Southeast Asia and India and is a well-known culinary favourite in the tropics. It is a large and herbaceous plant with long slender stalks connected to large heart-shaped leaves. Due to its round or tube shape and coffee-coloured fibrous hairs, taro is often nicknamed as potato’s ugly hairy cousin.
While I can’t quite disagree with that moniker, appearance-wise taro has a lot of varieties. Like most people, you might be familiar with the purple taro due to the infamous bubble tea, but taro actually comes in a variety of colours – purple, white or white with purple flecks. There are also small round ones and large elongated ones.
How Do I Cook Taro?
Though taro is well-known around the world as a bubble tea flavour, taro is actually very versatile and can be cooked in various different ways. They can either be boiled, fried, baked and all things in between.
One thing you need to remember though is that taro should never ever be eaten raw as it can cause itchiness, irritation and even swelling on the throat and mouth due to the calcium oxalates it contains.
But don’t worry. You can remove the calcium oxalate and the risk of irritation through physical means (i.e. scrubbing, soaking) and by properly cooking the said plant. Once you’ve mastered the proper way of taro preparation, then you’re on your way to enjoying the full culinary benefits of taro.
As I’ve previously said, taro is very versatile. You can turn the taro root or the corn into desserts and snacks like pancakes, ice creams, fries, chips and even cakes! Aside from these, taro can be cooked as a main dish like curry and noodles.
The leaves, on the other hand, can be stewed or can be turned into taro leaf rolls. The most famous taro leaf recipe is the Samoan dish Palusami – a dish combining taro leaves and coconut milk. If you’re a chef or just a person that loves cooking, I’m sure that you can create more dishes that use taro, after all, with an ingredient like taro, creativity is the limit.
What Does Taro Taste Like
After finding the many ways you can cook taro, I know you’re itching to know what it actually tastes like.Taro corm, in its raw form (I meant without additives, not uncooked), has a subtle nutty flavour that you may find similar to water chestnut.
I personally find it more savoury than potatoes due to its nutty undertone and less buttery. It is closer to sweet potato in taste but with a vanilla-like flavour. Purple taros and the smaller variants are sweeter compared to the larger variants as they can sometimes turn bland, but overall, taros have a delicately sweet taste.
The subtle sweetness of taro is attributed to its starchy nature and makes it the perfect ingredient for baked desserts, yogurts and smoothies. Since taro doesn’t have overpowering flavour, it can be cooked in combination with savoury dishes to create a more piquant combination of flavours.
Is Taro Healthy?
Now that you know what taro tastes like, you might be thinking about its health benefits or if it’s any good for you before venturing on tasting taro. Don’t worry, despite its hairy unappetizing appearance, taro actually has a lot of health benefits as it contains a lot of antioxidants, fiber, manganese, iron, vitamins A, B6, C and E as well as many other nutrients and minerals.
Taro leaves is a good source of fiber, protein, calcium and many others. As such it packs plenty of nutritional benefits. Here are some of them:
- Taro leaves are good for digestion. Since taro leaves contain high amounts dietary fibers, they are very good in aiding digestion and bowel movements. Aside from these, they can also reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Prevent Cancer. Since taro is rich in antioxidants (phenols and carotenoids) and vitamins, the body’s immune system gets boosted. The cells throughout the body also get protected from oxidative stress thus preventing the formation of malicious cancer cells.
Taro corm, on the other hand, contains high amounts of vitamins, minerals and organic compounds such as folate, carbohydrates, Vitamin A, C and E. It also boasts an impressive amount of fiber content which is significantly higher than the amount contained in white potato. Health benefits of taro corm include:
- Increased Blood Circulation. Taro contains plenty of useful minerals in its root including iron and copper, which are the primary players in blood production. Since its boosts blood production, taro also aids in preventing anemia and optimizes the overall body functions.
- Rejuvenates the Skin. The high levels of vitamins A and E in both the corm and even in the leaves of taro make it a skin revitalize. By adding taro to your diet, you can achieve a healthier, blemish-free skin.
Though taro boasts plenty of health benefits, you should always remember that all things consumed in excess are not good, especially since taro is very calorie-heavy. If you’re looking to bulk yourself up, it shouldn’t be much of a problem but again, eat it moderation.
Taro is a very versatile and a very healthy ingredient. As such, knowing the benefits and the adverse effects of this root crop and the effective ways of cooking it may prove very useful in the future in case your grandma from the South decides to send you a basketful.
I personally find taro very delicious, flavoured or not, but since we all have different palates and I’m far from being a gourmet, I can only say one thing: Try it! Then, come back and tell me how you find its taste.
If you find this post helpful, please like and share it to your friends. And feel free leave a comment below to share us your ideas on this topic.