Taro goes by various names, which include taro, talo, and dalo. It can also vary in exact color and size. However, it’s best known for the bright purple flesh inside. This interesting aspect of taro makes it a great and somewhat intriguing food item to use in cooking and also when making drinks like taro milk tea.
It’s a very widely cultivated plant and it can be found all over the world, but primarily in more tropical regions. This includes regions in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Latin America. But the use and cultivation even go beyond that, those are just some of the primary locations. And while it’s found in many places, it’s also one of the most ancient cultivated crops. There has been evidence of formalized agriculture and the production of the taro plant in the Kuk Swamp of New Guinea as far back as 10,000 years!
Time has only made this tuber more popular than ever. And it’s inclusion in milk tea has boosted its fame even more. The purple drink with the mochi balls is a foodie’s dream. But, what does taro taste like? It’s somewhat difficult to describe but I think it tastes like a sweet potato with a stronger and nuttier flavor.
Read on to learn all about Taro, its taste, texture and uses. I’ll also take a look at the difference between taro root and taro leaves.
What is Taro?
Taro (or perhaps one of its other names) is a root vegetable that you’ve likely seen at a supermarket, but since it’s unfamiliar to many people, you’ve probably passed it by without giving it a second thought. And if you’re unfamiliar with something and how to cook it or use it (which I’ll talk about later), then it probably wouldn’t seem that attractive for you.
However, it’s something that you should in fact consider cooking with or making something sweet, perhaps. It has a great flavor and it’s also very nutrient-dense – it’s more nutritious than a potato for example. And like potatoes, it’s also a tuber, which probably isn’t too surprising given that they have a somewhat similar, oblong shape and are also found in the earth and not above ground.
Once you get beyond the strange look of it on the outside, you’ll be happy to know that it’s actually known for its versatility and ease of preparation! Also, you may find the delicious and purple starch on the inside quite attractive! I know I do.
What Does Taro Taste Like?
I briefly mentioned already that taro has a similar taste to a sweet potato but is only a bit stronger and nuttier. This is true, of course, but there is also a bit more to it.
The nuttiness is perhaps similar to a mild vanilla flavor, or even mild cookies and cream flavor.
However, in my experience, you can get a pretty wide range of responses when asking what taro tastes like. But, it’s not much of a surprise since the different varieties and local environmental factors (like the soil) can play a role in how they taste.
But, the general consensus is that they taste something like a sweet potato but stronger and “different”.
Another thing that seems to be widely agreed upon is that taro is great in both sweets and savory dishes alike. But what seems to have made it so popular is the Instagram-able nature of taro bubble tea, which of course a great way to enjoy taro.
What Does Taro Root Taste Like?
The taste of taro root depends largely on how it’s prepared. It will taste dramatically different in ice cream and bubble tea compared to cooked taro that’s been fried or roasted. I’ll do my best to describe what it tastes like using a variety of preparation methods.
Taro that has been roasted has an entirely different flavor from taro that has been boiled or fried. When it’s roasted it has a sweet flavor because the carbohydrates in the taro have caramelized and converted into sugar.
Roasted taro has a taste similar to roasted sweet potato, but the texture is drier and chewier – more like roasted parsnip. I suggest pairing it with a food with a sauce or anything juicy, such as a thick, meaty casserole.
While it’s usually not the healthiest way to cook, fried food is simply delicious. And this also goes for fried taro. It’s extremely delectable, and many chefs say it is the greatest way to prepare taro!
Taro develops the same sweet flavor as roasted taro when fried, but it also absorbs additional tastes along the way. Fried taro is also more juicy and luscious than roasted taro. When you prepare a dish, like stir fry, for example, you can also try adding some grated or finely sliced taro.
When it’s boiled taro has a taste that is strikingly similar to boiled potatoes, but with a significantly stronger flavor and with nutty notes.
Some people claim that boiled taro has no flavor, however its mild flavor pairs nicely with delicate tastes like fish and vegetables. Taro, on the other hand, comes to life when it’s incorporated into other dishes like casseroles or into sauces.
This is because it does a great job of absorbing other flavors while preserving its own texture and firmness. This is perhaps why you’ll find many recipes that call for it to be boiled in a sauce of some sort.
What is the Texture of Taro Root Like?
I’ve used the comparison between taro and potatoes a lot, but since they’re both tubers, they do in fact act very similarly. And, the texture is no different.
When raw, the texture of taro is very much like that of potato or sweet potato. This is often why it can be added to so many things as well!
It has a relatively neutral texture that can go well with anything. Also, it’s very versatile when it’s prepared in different ways. One way that the texture differs from that of potatoes or sweet potatoes is that it stays a bit firmer when it’s been cooked.
So, it softens but still retains its firmness, unlike potatoes that become very soft. So, you can boil it and mash it and it’s more similar to custard than mashed potatoes.
What Do Taro Leaves Taste Like?
Another great feature of taro is that the leaves are also edible! You just need to make sure that you cook them first. Taro leaves taste similar to spinach or chard when cooked, but with somewhat nutty notes.
Taro leaves may be substituted for spinach in a variety of dishes, including pasta bakes and frittatas.
However, you must be very careful when cooking with taro leaves. You need to make sure that they’re fully cooked before eating them. While they aren’t deadly, they can make your life very unpleasant – causing irritation, burning, or numbness to the mouth as well as causing kidney stones.
So, to prevent this, it’s recommended to boil the taro leaves for 45 minutes before you eat them.
What is the Texture of Taro Leaves Like?
The texture of taro leaves is also similar to that of other leafy greens like spinach or swiss chard. Particularly because you have to boil it for such a long time, which makes it soft and somewhat mushy. But it’s a great addition to a casserole, that’s for sure.
What Tastes Similar to Taro?
If you aren’t able to find taro in your local supermarket and a recipe calls for it, you’ll need to find a close replacement to use as a substitute. Lu
Luckily, there are a few different things that you can use. However, it may be tough to replace the bright purple color you get from it. But some of the closest things to taro are purple sweet potato, parsnip, or yucca root.
Is Taro Healthy?
Yes! Taro is very healthy. Not only is tar a good source of vitamins and minerals like manganese, vitamin b6, and vitamin 3, it is also a great source of fiber and is known to have other beneficial properties as well.
Benefits of Taro
While taro has a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, it also has other health benefits. The other health benefits of taro include improved digestion, blood sugar management, heart health, and lower risks associated with cancer.
So, it seems like a no-brainer to eat more taro, right?
Uses for Taro
I have passively mentioned a few uses for taro like in casseroles, bubble tea, etc. But here is a list of my favorite uses for taro.
- Bubble tea
- Taro coconut tapioca dessert
- Taro fries
- Crispy taro fritters
- Taro croquettes
- Taro ice cream