What is Taro, and What Makes It so Popular?
Taro is the underground tuber section of a plant called Aracaea who also grows edible heart shaped leaves. Depending on where it is grown, the taro can be white, pink or purple in color. It originated from the tropical regions of South India and South Asia but has been cultivated all over the world: Hawai'i, Venezuela, Brazil and even Egypt. It has a long history in international cuisine: its naturally sweet and nutty flavor makes it extremely popular across the world and can be found in a variety of dishes. Many would compare Taro to a potato as they are both starchy and can be eaten the same ways: fried, mashed, boiled, baked, and roasted.
Taro also goes by the names yu-tou (芋頭), Arrow Root (kolkas), eddoe, toran (토란), saitomo (里芋), pheuak (เผือก), gabi and Khoai môn (amongst other names). With its widespread history also comes many different ways of cooking. (Scroll down for recipes!)
Fun Fact: Taro has a deep connection to Hawaii's spiritual culture. According to an old traditional folk tale, it is said that it was Wakea the sky father and his daughter Ho`ohokukalani's first child. However, it was stillborn and therefore buried, only to later grow into Taro. Its brother, Wakea and Ho'ohokukalani's second child, was the ancestor to the human race. Read more about the history here.
You can also count on Taro to provide you with tons of nutrients. While you cannot eat it raw, it is high in potassium, fiber, and Vitamin E when cooked (learn how to cook it properly). This means that Taro can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and help you manage your weight. In addition, the Vitamin E acts like antioxidants that protects your cells.
When compared to a sweet potato, it holds more potassium, magnesium and vitamin B. It is also said that because of Taro's low glycemic index levels it is much healthier for diabetics than potatoes and provides long lasting energy. However, be aware of taro desserts as they may contain a lot of sugar.
Here are the nutrition facts:
Dishes with Taro
This purple root fruit has become a traditional staple in many cultures. Some like to cook it in savory dishes but it can also be the centerpiece of sweet desserts. It can even be found in popular US items such as Trader Joe's Root Chips and have been popularized as an alternative potato and sweet potato fries. You can try making this Taro sweet sticky rice dessert with caramelized Banana and our Honey Taro:
Our favorite things to do with Taro here at Fanale are to make Taro Bubble Tea and Taro Pudding. We also sell Honey Taro already made and ready for you to eat and add to your baked goods, Shaved Snow and other sweets. And of course, we have Taro Flavoring Powder for your drinks, smoothies, beverages and more.
- Wei Fan