Hello, fellow food enthusiasts! Today, we’re going to uncover the mysteries of a not-so-familiar tuber—taro root. You might be wondering, “What does taro taste like?” Well, it may not yet have found a starring role in your kitchen repertoire, but rest assured, we’re about to elevate its status.
What is Taro?
Our protagonist, taro, hails from Southeast Asia and is part of the root vegetables family, along with potatoes and yams. You’ve probably seen it: a bulbous root with a rough, brown exterior hiding its white flesh inside, sometimes streaked with gorgeous purple veins. But taro is more than just its root; the leaves also make their way into several dishes, adding a unique flavor profile.
What Does Taro Taste Like?
Now, the burning question: “What does taro taste like?” Picture this: the starchy texture of a potato with a slightly sweet flavor, a whisper of vanilla, and an underlying nutty flavor that’s uniquely taro. Yes, if potatoes and sweet potatoes got together for a fancy dinner, their dessert would taste something like taro.
Taro vs Ube
Taro and ube are both root vegetables, widely used in cooking, especially in Asian cuisine. Despite the similarities in appearance and culinary uses, they’re different in terms of species, taste, and color.
Species. Taro is a tropical plant primarily grown as a root vegetable for its edible starchy corm, and it belongs to the Araceae family. Its scientific name is Colocasia esculenta. On the other hand, ube, or purple yam, is a species of yam, a tuberous root vegetable. Its scientific name is Dioscorea alata.
Taste. Taro has a mildly sweet taste with a slight nutty flavor and is usually described as having a texture similar to a potato but with a taste reminiscent of both sweet potato and vanilla. It has a unique flavor that’s difficult to compare directly with other foods. Ube, on the other hand, is much sweeter and has a flavor more similar to vanilla. This distinctive taste makes ube a popular choice for desserts.
Color. The flesh of taro is usually white to light pink, with small flecks of purple, and it turns grayish when cooked. Ube stands out due to its vibrant purple color, which it retains even after cooking. This intense purple color has made ube particularly popular in contemporary desserts, from ice creams to cakes and pastries.
So while taro and ube might look similar at first glance, they bring different colors, flavors, and textures to the table. This makes each one unique and allows them to shine in different types of dishes.
Nutrition & Health Benefits of Taro
Like its root veggie siblings, taro is a treasure trove of fiber and starches. This translates to controlled blood sugar levels and feelings of fullness. Plus, it’s chock-full of vitamins and minerals, including vital potassium. A note of caution, though: raw taro contains calcium oxalate, which can be harmful. So, no nibbling before it’s cooked!
Let’s dive deeper into the healthful cornucopia that is taro. This humble root vegetable is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which not only aids in digestion but also helps control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar. This makes it an excellent food choice for those managing diabetes.
With about one-sixth of your daily potassium needs, a serving of taro is a cardiac ally. Potassium is vital for heart health, playing a key role in muscle contraction and nerve signal transmission.
But there’s more! Taro is also a source of vitamins, particularly vitamin E, vitamin C, and some B vitamins like B6 and folate. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells against damage. Vitamin C is involved in everything from skin health to immune function. B vitamins are critical for brain health and energy production.
Taro is rich in magnesium, which is important for muscle function and bone health, and copper, which aids in red blood cell formation. But remember to cook taro thoroughly before consuming it, as it contains calcium oxalate, which can contribute to kidney stones if consumed excessively.
Now, let’s talk about carbs and protein. Taro is high in carbohydrates, providing energy for your body’s functions. Moreover, it has a small but useful amount of protein, an essential building block for most parts of the body.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown for 1 cup (132 grams) of cooked taro:
- Calories: 187
- Protein: 0.7 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Carbohydrates: 46.4 grams
- Fiber: 6.7 grams
- Sugars: 0.8 grams
- Vitamin E: 2.86 mg
- Vitamin C: 4.1 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.391 mg
- Folate: 38 µg
- Calcium: 17 mg
- Iron: 0.5 mg
- Magnesium: 45 mg
- Potassium: 639 mg
Just one cup of this magic root provides all these nutrients! Now, that’s what I call a super(food) hero. But as always, the key is balance. Enjoy taro as part of a diverse diet to reap all its health benefits.
Types of Taro
Taro comes in different types, distinguished by their flesh’s colors: white, pink, or purple. Also known as Colocasia esculenta, taro comes in several varieties, primarily differentiated by the color of their flesh and their size. Here are some of the most common types of taro:
- Dasheen. Dasheen is a common type of taro that’s smaller than some other varieties, usually about 2-5 inches in diameter. It has a somewhat sweet, nutty flavor and is a popular ingredient in Caribbean and West African cooking.
- Eddo. Also known as Japanese taro or eddoe, this type of taro is smaller and more round than many other varieties. It has a light purple flesh and a delicate, sweet flavor.
- Chinese Taro. This variety is larger and has a more elongated shape. It’s often used in Chinese cuisine, particularly in stir-fries and steamed dishes.
- Elephant Ear Taro. Also known as giant taro or Alocasia macrorrhizos, this variety gets its name from its large, ear-shaped leaves. It’s not as commonly eaten as some other types due to its higher calcium oxalate content, but it’s often grown as an ornamental plant.
- Poi. This Hawaiian variety of taro is known for its use in poi, a traditional Hawaiian dish. Poi taro has a very starchy texture and a subtly sweet flavor.
- Cocoyam. This type is more common in Africa and has rough, hairy outer skin. It’s a staple in many African cuisines and is often used in soups and stews.
- Giant Swamp Taro. This variety grows in the Pacific Islands and can reach quite large sizes. It’s often used in traditional Pacific Islander dishes.
Each of these varieties has unique characteristics that make it better suited to certain types of dishes and cooking methods, so it’s worth trying out a few different types to see which ones you prefer!
How to Store Taro
Fresh taro can be stored in a cool, dark place, like a pantry. After it’s peeled and cut, keep it submerged in cold water in the fridge to prevent discoloration. Cooked taro should be stored in the fridge and consumed within a week.
Types of Taro
Types of Taro
- Chinese Taro
- Elephant Ear Taro
- Giant Swamp Taro
- Choose a type of taro.
- Find a recipe.
- Cook and enjoy.
How to Use Taro
Your culinary adventures with taro can range from stir-fries to desserts, its subtly sweet and nutty flavor complementing both. You can boil, roast, or bake this versatile tuber, just like you would a potato. Want to experiment? Swap out the regular fries with taro chips or conjure up a creamy taro ice cream.
Taro is a fantastically versatile ingredient and can be incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes. Here are some ways you can use taro:
- Boiled or Steamed Taro: One of the simplest ways to prepare taro is to boil or steam it until tender. It can then be mashed like a potato or eaten as is with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper.
- Roasted Taro: Taro can be cut into chunks and roasted in the oven, providing a delicious and healthier alternative to traditional roasted potatoes.
- Taro Chips: Slice taro thinly and bake or fry to create crispy taro chips, a unique and tasty alternative to potato chips.
- Taro in Soups and Stews: Taro can be added to a variety of soups and stews, where it acts as a thickener and adds a touch of sweetness.
- Taro Smoothies: Taro can be cooked, then blended into a smoothie for a nutrient-rich and filling drink.
- Taro Bubble Tea: Perhaps the most famous use for taro in recent years, taro bubble tea is a sweet and creamy drink made with taro powder, milk, and tapioca pearls.
- Taro Desserts: Taro can be used in a variety of desserts, such as taro ice cream, cakes, and pastries. Its slightly sweet flavor pairs well with other dessert ingredients.
- Taro Stir-fry: In many Asian cuisines, taro is stir-fried with other vegetables and meats. It holds its shape well and adds a nice texture to the dish.
- Taro Dumplings: In dim sum cuisine, taro is often used as a wrapper or filling for dumplings.
- Taro Pudding: Taro can be mashed and mixed with coconut milk to make a sweet, creamy pudding.
- Taro Bread: Taro can be used in bread either as a flavoring in the dough or as a sweet, creamy filling.
Remember, taro should always be cooked before eating to neutralize the calcium oxalate crystals it contains, which can be irritating to the mouth and throat. Whether you’re looking for a unique addition to your dinner or a sweet treat, taro is an excellent ingredient to consider!
Diced taro can add a new dimension to your stir-fries. For a simple, comforting dish, try a taro roast seasoned with salt, pepper, and butter. Also, taro leaves, when cooked, make a healthy addition to soups and stews. Take a look below at some recs then check out our entire post of taro recipes!
The taro root’s mild sweetness makes it perfect for desserts. You can bake it into cakes, blend it into smoothies, or incorporate taro powder into your homemade ice cream. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try creating your own taro milk tea, a popular beverage in many tea shops.
What does taro taste similar to?
Taro has a unique taste, somewhat akin to a sweet potato but with an additional nutty flavor and a hint of vanilla.
What does taro taste like in boba?
When taro is used in boba tea, it provides a creamy, slightly sweet, and subtly nutty flavor that complements the tapioca pearls perfectly.
Is taro a good boba flavor?
Absolutely! Taro boba tea is a popular choice in bubble tea shops worldwide. Its unique flavor and alluring purple color make it a delightful and Instagram-worthy beverage.
Does taro taste like coconut?
Not really. While taro is often prepared with coconut milk in various dishes, its taste is more similar to a sweet potato with a nutty undertone.
Does taro root taste like potatoes?
In terms of texture, taro is similar to a potato – starchy and dense. However, taro has a slightly sweeter flavor with a hint of vanilla.
Is taro gluten-free?
Taro is a root vegetable that is naturally gluten-free, similar to potatoes, and does not contain any wheat, barley, or rye derivatives that contribute to gluten content. This makes taro a great food option for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
However, it’s crucial to be mindful of how taro is prepared, if it’s cooked or processed with gluten-containing ingredients, the final dish may not be gluten-free. Always ensure to check the other ingredients and preparation methods when consuming taro, particularly if you’re strictly following a gluten-free diet.
Is taro keto-friendly?
Taro is a starchy root vegetable and it’s relatively high in carbohydrates, so it’s typically not considered keto-friendly.
Now that you’re armed with all this taro knowledge, I hope you’re as excited as I am to whip up some taro goodness in the kitchen. From savory dishes to delectable desserts, taro is ready to surprise you with its versatility.
Before I sign off, here’s a little food for thought. Why did the taro blush? Because it saw the sweet potato! Okay, I admit, that was a little corny. But you’ve got to root for food humor, right?
Until next time, may your meals be hearty, your taro be tender, and your beverages be refreshing. If you need me, I’ll be at my local bubble tea shop, indulging in some taro milk tea with extra boba. Cheers to the deliciously diverse world of root vegetables.
More Food Inspiration
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