Taro is what poi comes from, but steamed and mashed is by no means the only way to present this wholesome tuber.
Malani Baker wrote for some ideas for adding taro to the menu. "I’d like to use it as a side dish, similar to potato salads."
Cooked taro has a benign flavor and a texture similar to a potato. This makes it easy to add to many dishes where it will absorb the taste of any dressing or seasoning.
Simple ways to use cooked cubes of taro:
» Mash with butter, minced garlic and milk or cream.
» Mix into your favorite stuffing in place of some of the bread.
» Add to poke, or make a vegetarian poke by mixing taro cubes with the usual poke seasonings of soy sauce, chilies, onion, sea salt and ogo.
» Toss into a bean or pasta salad.
» For a dessert, combine equal amounts of taro and sweet potato with coconut milk and a sprinkle of brown sugar; simmer to heat through.
Taro may be cooked in the same ways as a potato: boiled, steamed or oven-roasted. Cook the whole corm (pierce the skin a few times first) or peel and cube it first. Cubed taro can also be microwaved (add a small amount of water and cook on high heat 3 to 5 minutes). To roast, place the whole corm in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour, or cubes for 15 to 20 minutes. Whatever method you choose, the taro is done when it is easily pierced with a fork.
Note that raw taro can irritate the skin because of the calcium oxalate crystals it contains. Many people use gloves — I just work fast and wash my hands right away.
This taro side dish could stand in for a potato salad. Don’t go with roasting for this recipe — the taro cubes will be too dry. Steam or boil until tender but not too soft so they’ll hold up when mixed with the other ingredients.
Taro Salad with fresh veggies
4 cups cubed taro, steamed or boiled (or 2 cups taro and 2 cups sweet potato)
1 small onion
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup soybeans (edamame, thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Be sure taro is well drained; place in large bowl.
Cut onion in half. Grate half; mix with taro (grating will produce a lot of liquid; add that as well). Dice the rest of the onion. Mix in with taro, sprinkle with salt and let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Combine dressing ingredients and mix well; taste and adjust seasonings.
Add cucumber, bell pepper and soy beans to taro. Toss with dressing. Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 430 calories, 23 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 53 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 3 g protein
Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. E-mail email@example.com.