Holy tubers, I hope that tastes better than it looks

28 11 2010

Question #1: What on earth is a taro root?

That’s what the cashier asked me when I bought the miniature tuber. When the cashier at a grocery store has to ask you what on earth you’re buying, you might want to rethink your food choices.

Unless you’re a food blogger. Then it’s OK.

Question #2: How on earth do you eat a taro root?

Actually, let’s back up. Can you eat a taro root?

Harnessing the awesome power of the Internet with my fingertips (read: Going to Google), I found the answer. Taro root is most definitely edible. Preparing it, however, might prove difficult.

Take this blog, for instance. It told me I can deep-fry and batter taro root, which sounds incredible. But when I looked at the ingredients list, I felt that same cold churning feeling in the pit of my stomach that I did on my first day of high-school Spanish class.

Oh my goodness…oh my goodness…I don’t know what any of this MEANS!

Chepankizhangu? Urad dal? Looks like someone fell asleep on their keyboard. No way do I have any of that (whatever it is) in my pantry.

I found a more understandable way to prepare it, but it involves tofu. I feel like adding tofu to something I’m reviewing just sort of takes away from it somehow.

So, Plan B: fry it. According to the Internet, that’s okay.

But first, I wanted to taste it raw.

Now, according to Food Reference, taro root is toxic in its raw form and should always be cooked before eating. (This is why I love the Internet, because it saved me from certain death by tuber today.) Call me crazy, but I still wanted to know what it tasted like raw (and I feel like no review would be complete without it). So I decided to take an itty bitty bite.

I used a potato peeler to remove the hairy outside (which, by the way, got all over the inside. Thank goodness for running water). Then I sliced it into pieces and nibbled off an edge.

It was kind of slimy, and it tasted almost exactly like a potato. The flavor wasn’t as strong as a sweet potato, but it was a little more nutty and woody than your average tater. The aftertaste was more potent than the original flavor, and much more bitter.

Interesting. Definitely not bad (well, other than the toxicity factor). Time to fry it.

I tossed the pieces into a pan of canola oil and fried them for about five minutes. When they were done, I snatched up the biggest piece and ate it.

It reminded me of a french fry without salt … so I added some salt to the rest.

Not surprisingly, they tasted like they belonged at a fast-food joint.

I suppose the strong similarity to french fries makes sense when you consider that a taro root is the potato’s cousin. In fact, it can be substituted for a potato in many dishes. (Though potatoes are generally cheaper.)

In all, they weren’t bad. I’m reminded of the very first food I ever tried for this blog, Terra Chips. My favorite variation was the taro chip — and in fact, Terra makes taro chips that I still need to buy as a snack. Those were even better than the fried version I made today.

But now I know what taro root tastes like — at least when it’s fried. (Well, and raw, but don’t try that at home.) I still have another root left — maybe I should fry it and take it back to the grocery store as an early Christmas gift for that confused cashier.


Ingredients: Taro root.
Price: $3.99 per pound at Fry’s Marketplace
Pros: Tastes like a potato … or like a french fry, if you fry and salt it.
Cons: It looks like hairy dog poop. No, I’m not sorry for that. It’s true. Oh and also, it’s toxic when it’s raw — so cook it before you eat it.

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