Trying new things can be intimidating, but what if you could try something new that tastes like a delicious combination of earthy and sweet?
Taro is a unique food that some people might be scared to try because it's new to them. But once you taste it, you'll understand it's potential.
If you're looking for a new, interesting starch to add to your dinner rotation, taro might be just the thing. Read on to learn what taro tastes like and the best ways to use it.
What is Taro?
Taro is a root vegetable that is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. The plant was brought to Africa by Portuguese traders in the 1500s, and from there it spread to other parts of the world.
Taro is believed to have been one of the earliest cultivated plants.
Taro can be boiled, mashed, or fried. All parts of the plant are edible, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots, but it must be cooked before eating to remove toxicity.
It has a bland, starchy taste that makes it very versatile in recipes, and can be used in dishes like stir-fries, curries, and soups.
Flavor Profile of Taro
This root vegetable has a unique flavor and texture that sets it apart from more common options like potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Some say it tastes like a mix of sweet potato and yam. Others think it tastes like apple. It is said to be nutty and slightly earthy, with just a hint of vanilla.
No one really knows for sure, because it's not a common ingredient in most parts of the world. What we do know is that it has a bland, starchy taste that makes it versatile in many recipes.
The texture of taro changes depending on the cooking technique you use to prepare it - if you boil or mash it, then you'll find the texture is much softer and creamier than when heated as part of an entree dish.
Taro Powder vs. Real Taro Root
Taro powder is a gluten-free starch derived from peeled and ground corms of the taro root. The roots are boiled, sliced, and dried before they're shredded and pulverized into a fine powder.
Taro powder has no flavor on its own so it's often mixed with other flours for baking or thickening purposes.
Real taro root is what you might commonly think of as a potato. It has a firm, creamy texture and a flavor that falls somewhere between a white potato and a sweet potato.
Both the powder and the root are used to make different types of dishes from soups to baked goods.
How do Taro Powder and Real Taro Root Compare?
The texture of taro powder is much different than the root. The real root has a soft, creamy interior while the powder is lighter and fluffier with an almost spongey consistency when used in recipes .
While both are excellent sources of dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin C , and low in calories, the powder contains no flavor on its own so it needs to be combined with other flours when baking.
The root, on the other hand, has a mild taste that becomes stronger when heated or cooked. It's also often used in Asian-style dishes like curries and stir fries.
Taro vs. Ube
What is Ube?
Ube is a sweet purple yam that comes from the Philippines. It has an earthy flavor and creamy texture similar to taro root, but with a refined sweetness.
Ube can be used in many dishes like ice cream, cheesecake, doughnuts, candy, and more!
How do Taro and Ube Compare?
Taro and ube are both root vegetables, but taro is creamier, whiter in color, less sweet, and has a fluffier texture. Ube is earthier in flavor with a darker purple color.
Taro can be prepared like potatoes while ube can be used more like a yam or sweet potato.
Both taro and ube can be used raw or cooked, and both can be boiled, mashed, fried, baked, grilled, roasted, and sauteed.
How is Taro Bubble Tea Made?
Taro bubble tea is made using the same method as regular bubble tea, by combining taro powder, erythritol or another sweetener, and hot water with cubes of tapioca pearls. The mixture is shaken in a cocktail mixer until the balls of tapioca are soft and chewy.
There seem to be many variations on the original bubble tea, and the recipes vary widely.
Many use sweetened condensed milk or plant-based milk alternatives instead of water, with added variations of black or green tea, vanilla extract, salt, and even baking soda.
Boba Tea vs. Bubble Tea vs. Milk Tea
Boba tea, bubble tea and milk tea are all interchangeable terms for the popular Taiwanese tea-based drink. This drink typically contains milk and naturally-flavored tapioca pearls.
It can be served cold or hot, and sweetened with sugar or honey. Some other names this popular tea goes by are "boba nai cha" and "pearl milk tea."
Can Lactose-Intolerants Drink Taro Boba?
While taro doesn't actually contain any lactose, the traditional tapioca balls used in bubble tea do.
Coconut pearl boba is lactose-free and a great alternative for those with dairy issues. The starch from the coconut is derived from a fruit, unlike tapioca pearls which are derived from the cassava root, which contains lactose.
Some even prefer the creamy, sweet twist of coconut to regular boba tea!
What are the Health Benefits of Taro?
Taro is an excellent choice for people who are looking for a healthy alternative to processed foods.
Taro is a very healthy vegetable that is full of fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, and magnesium. It contains no fat or cholesterol and is high in dietary fiber and fat-soluble vitamins like beta-carotene and vitamin K, and even contains cancer-fighting antioxidants.
It's low in calories, which is a good option for those trying to lose weight.
Taro is full of good carbs that provide long-lasting energy, making it a great food for athletes.
The large amount of fiber can help improve digestion, control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol, making it a winner in our book!
Taro contains about 150 calories per cup, with only 35 of those calories coming from fat.
Where can I Buy Taro?
Taro can be purchased at your local grocery store in the produce aisle, or at a farmer's market. It is becoming increasingly popular in the United States and popping up in grocery stores like Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods.
Taro can also be purchased online, but for the freshest taro, shop locally!
To help Taro keep its freshness, keep it in a cool and dark place until you use it. Once cut, wrap in plastic to keep it fresh for longer.
What can I Make with Taro?
Taro can be used to make a variety of dishes. Cook it up with vegetables for soups, casseroles, or chips, turn it into french fries, or use it as a healthy side dish.
The root vegetable can also be boiled, steamed, mashed like potatoes, blended into smoothies or milkshakes, or added to ice cream and baked goods.
Check out these 12 Taro Recipes to start getting creative in the kitchen.
How to Make Taro Milk Tea at Home
You can make delicious homemade taro milk tea at home with just a few ingredients. Keep in mind, the tapioca pearls are optional, but if you want to purchase some, they can be found in certain speciality shops or online.
There are many different ways to make Boba Tea, but here are some of our favorite tried-and-true recipes:
The taro plant is a versatile, low-calorie alternative to other root vegetables. It's soft and fluffy with an earthy flavor that makes it perfect for many dishes.
Next time you're in the grocery store, keep your eyes peeled for this delicious vegetable!
Have you ever tried taro? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear about your experiences with this unique and delicious root vegetable.
Founder of Robust Kitchen