The loved root

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For this week Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by the lovely Haalo of Cook (anything) at least Once, I would like to feature a starchy root – taro. By saying taro, I mean the root vegetable with firm white and light purple flesh. I think they are called yam in some other places, but the most common name is Taro.

I am personally familiar with two types of taro: the large (left) and small varieties (right). The smaller round ones tend to have sweeter flavor and more delicate texture. They are, however, harder to find. The large variety is occasionally found fresh in good Asian Groceries. Otherwise, the imported frozen products should be readily available.

When searching for taro, I am amazed to find that it is widely used in many different parts of the world like Southeast Asia, South Asia, Hawaii & Fiji etc. Some taro leaves and stems are also edible but it will be the subject of another post. As a root, taro is starchy and a good source of fiber. It can be boiled, steamed or fried in both sweet and savory dishes. Taro flour (starch) and pearls are also widely used as thickening agent and in desserts.

Today I will use taro in a modern Cantonese-style preparation. The taro is steamed, mashed and flavoured with Chinese fermented bean curd. This mixture is, then, stuffed in thick eggplant slices, coated with a light chickpea flour (besan) batter and deep-fried until golden brown. The end result is a fritter with crunchy skin and smooth, melt-in-your-mouth filling. A great vegetarian entrée or finger food.

The recipe is loosely based on a dish served at Lau´s Family Kitchen in St Kilda, Melbourne. This restaurant is packed all the time and I haven´t bothered to check it out yet. But Bea was there last month and she had a good impression.

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Eggplant Stuffed with Taro

Ingredients

300g fresh taro (*)

10gm piece of Chinese fermented bean curd (*)

1 large eggplant

Corn oil, to deep-fry

Potato flour, as needed

Salt, Sugar and Pepper to taste

Batter

150g besan flour

1 tsp baking powder

250ml warm water

A pinch of sea salt

Preparation

  1. Steam and mash the taro. Mix in the Chinese fermented bean curd. Check seasoning (you may need to add a little sugar). Add some oil from the preserved bean curd so that the mixture comes together.
  2. Mix the batter ingredients together. Set aside for at least 20 mins.
  3. Halve the eggplant lengthwise. Cut each half into 2.5 cm-thick slices. Starting from the skin-side, cut through each slice horizontally, leaving 1cm attached at the bottom. Open out gently and press taro mixture in.
  4. Dust the stuffed eggplants with some potato flour then dip in the batter. Deep-fry for 5 mins or until golden.
  5. Serve immediately with your favourite Chinese sauce. I served mine with my home-made tomato pickle.

(*) You can use thawed frozen taro. However, add some potato flour to the filling mixture so that it is not too moist.

(*) Like cheese, Preserved Bean Curds vary in strength and flavor. Here is the brand I normally use and a picture of how the preserved bean curd looks like.

18 Responses to The loved root

  1. Kalyn says:

    Most interesting. I don’t think taro is sold anywhere here, at least I’ve never seen it. Maybe an Asian store would have it. Yours looks delicious; I’d love to taste some. (By the way, a little off the subject, but the vegetable that’s called “yam” here is really an orange type of sweet potato. So confusing with different names for things in different places.)

  2. Rasa Malaysia says:

    Wow, I love taro…give me any taro and I will eat it regardless of how it’s cooked. I love the way you present your food, very warm color and creative plating.

  3. Gattina says:

    Anh, fantastic photo!!!

  4. Angie says:

    Another fabulous dish pal :) I would never have thought of stuffing eggplant with taro paste. I love your photos, it gives a very ‘dreamy’ kind of feeling, love them all!

  5. Katie says:

    Gorgeous photo! I love the plate and the presentation!

  6. Lydia says:

    Beautiful photos! I’ve had taro a couple of times (and in poi), but I’ve never cooked it. Such an interesting post, and the recipe looks lovely.

  7. Anh says:

    Kalyn, thank you. Hope you can taste taro some days.

  8. Sushma says:

    Anh, you have brought to my knowledge a very new recipe with Taro root. I only try making Taro chips with them.. the eggplant stuffed Taro’s look delicious..

  9. Sia's Corner says:

    although i have seen pleanty of taro in caribbean markets i have not tried cooking with them till now. u have posted a wonderful recipe to try with.

  10. Helene says:

    I´ve never seen taro root here, but you´ve made me curious!! Thanks!!

  11. Amy says:

    Yum I love taro and preserved bean curd, that’s the brand I use too. :) I have a question about taro. When I get taro bubble tea it’s always very, very purple. It is really taro or is it ube? Do they have a similar flavor?

  12. Anh says:

    Sushma, taro chips sound nice! I don’t mind trying some.

  13. Scott at Real Epicurean says:

    I’ve never heard of taro, but I’d love to try it. I find those starchy root vegetables can be really typical of a countries staple food.

  14. Sandeepa says:

    Have not tried Taro much Anh. The first pic is simply to die for and that serving dish is beautiful

  15. sher says:

    My grocery store sells taro and I have looked at it many times and wondered how to fix it. And now I know! Those pictures look so good!

  16. Sharmi says:

    I always loved your pics. they look so tempting and attractive. its a lovely entry. I did not have camera for 2 weeks:(( got a new one today. your recipe looks so yummy.

  17. Melting Wok says:

    I love taro !! taro smoothies, taro shakes, fried taro with chinese rice cake smacked btw some sweet potatoes..yums !! gosh, this also reminds me of another fried recipe ..fried duck w/taro pieces, yummy :)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hi Anh,

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