Taro Root is not an ingredient that I had used before so when Steve from Vegies Unlimited suggested I have a go at using it, I thought why not! So what is it?
Taro root comes from the taro plant, which is native to Southeast Asia and India and is a staple in diets there as well as Africa, China, the Caribbean, and Hawaii. Both the big green leaves of the plant and the root itself can be consumed when cooked but are toxic in their raw form. There are lots of varieties of taro, from small to large and from white-fleshed to purple-flecked ones. It’s most commonly used and prepared much like a potato, as it’s equally starchy and similar in flavour, with taro taking on a nuttier, richer, and more complex taste overall. Compared to a white potato, it has three times the amount of fibre, and is also a rich source of potassium, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
As a general rule, treat taro root like you would a potato or sweet potato — it can be roasted, boiled, simmer, mashed, or fried however the uses for taro root are endless — it’s cooked up in various savoury and sweet ways around the world. The popular Hawaiian dish poi is simply mashed taro root and is eaten alone or as a side dish for meat. In parts of India, it’s often cubed and added to curries. And perhaps most commonly known in the U.S. is taro as a flavouring for bubble tea.
Taro root does have a creamier texture than your average potato so don’t be surprised when you cut it open to find this. To make the taro chips, simply peel the taro root with a vegetable peeler and very thinly slice with a sharp knife, or on a mandolin (like I did). Try to keep your chips the same size so you don’t have to worry about the smaller chips burning.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper. Place the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets—the slices can be touching but should not overlap. Brush the top of each round with a very thin layer of oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12 minutes (keep an eye on any smaller chips so they don’t burn). Rotate the pans between racks and bake until the edges of the taro chips curl up slightly and are just starting to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes more. Place the baking sheets on wire racks, immediately season the chips with salt, and let the chips cool until crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chips to a serving dish and serve with your favourite dip or as a side dish with dinner or a BBQ. They will store well and maintain their crunchiness for up to 5 days if stored in an airtight container.
Pick up some Queensland taro root at Vegies Unlimited and let us know what you create with it.
About The Author
Trudie Bishop is our Chief of Foodspiration and an experienced home cook with a passion for local produce, learning and getting kids of all ages in the kitchen.