Saturday, December 1, 2007

Big Taro Root or Malanga Coco

This is the deal. I made sure I wrote down the names of the unusual produce we purchased b/c I knew I'd never remember them. When we got home I tried doing a search on each of the items. And there is where it got a bit complicated.

I wrote down "Boniato", the name written directly above the produce bin I took the veggie from...but on my receipt it said "Malanga Coco"... and then based on the research I did online - it appears to actually be "Big Taro Root".

I searched around a lot and couldn't come up with any conclusive evidence that these names are all synonyms for the same vegetable. But I'm going to call it Big Taro Root (BTR) b/c in a description for it, I read "white flesh that may be speckled with what resembles grated chocolate." The article also talked about how dry the big taro root is. And that matches to a t the root I cut open.

I decided to microwave the BTR - took about 8 minutes (it's an old microwave probably 20 years old - so might be quicker in a newer microwave), and I poked it all over with a fork before cooking it.

Soon an unusual smell filled the kitchen. It was not at all a baked-potato smell like I was expecting. It had more of a baked muffin odor is how I'd describe it.

Once I cut open the BTR I was happy to see the "chocolate speckled" flesh. In the center of the half though there was a white circle. The outer portions of the BTR were softer than the inner white area - could be it needed a couple more minutes of microwaving.

My ds said "it tastes like mashed potatoes". My dd said "like a sweet potato - very dry".

I really liked it - and seemed like the girl liked it - the boy, hating potatoes of any kind - was all set up in his mind not to like it - and he only barely tasted it.

It was not nearly as sweet as a sweet potato - and did not taste like a regular potato (sorry I'm not good at describing). But from what I've read it has a "distinct artichoke heart and chestnut flavor".

It was very dry. Reminded me of the dryness and consistency of the yoke in a hardboiled egg. I'd much rather eat the BTR than a sweet potato.


Nelson Silva said...

Actually,There are more than 100 varieties of Taro root(Xanthosoma sagittifolium),but there are two kinds in the market,Large and small,it's also called malanga,güagüi,malanga isleña,ocumo,yautia,turmero etc.You can peel the tuber and boil it in salted water for about's done when fork tender.You can use it in soups,or just boiled and before serving,pour some fried garlic in olive oil. You can also make it like mashed potato and give it to a sick person.

Kevin said...

Malanga (Xanthasoma genus) and Taro are two different things. Malanga islena from the Dominican is actually Taro. Malanga Coco looks more like a taro than malanga but I have found nothing definitive regarding which is it.

Taro is the stuff that poi is made from in Hawaii, the traditional luau side dish with the roasted pig.

Boniato however is a Cuban sweet potato. That is not what is shown in the photo. Boniato is bumpy with a light purple to dark pink skin and the flesh is almost pure white (until exposed to the air so put in water when peeled.

Anonymous said...

Malanga used to be prescribed to sick people, as Mr. Silva said. In old fashioned homes like mine, it is indeed still given for people recovering from stomach ulcers, stomach flu, etc. It can be cooked many ways. If you boil it, do so with some salt. If you mash it afterwards, you can put a drop or two of olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice. You can also eat it with butter, like a mashed potato. My favorite way, though, is incredibly fattening and negates the health benefits, but it is delicious. Puree it after boiling it until it is smooth. Add one egg, as much mashed garlic as you like (I like a lot) a little bit of pepper and chopped parsley to taste. Stir it--it will not be firm--and then drop spoonfulls into very hot olive oil which you turn down once you pour the fritters. This is a Christmas tradition in our home and it brings compliments from everyone, even guests who have never tried it before. You can also peel the malanga, slice it (do not boil it) as you would potato chips and then either fry it or bake. Add salt and you have a different kind of chip. In the soups also--checken soup with a Latin twist in particular--you can put calabaza, malanga, yuca, and corn. Add a little cilantro at the very end and a little beer. Keep cooking until the raw alcohol taste is gone. Yum.

Anonymous said...

The most significant identifying characteristic of the Asian taro that is referred to as "yam" and used for making fried or steamed foods, is its fragrance.

I've seen it in produce departments in the US labeled as dasheen, eddo, and malanga lila, the last name being the correct version in my area. Regardless of the label, if you smell the end of one of these large tubers that has been cut, and it has a distinct nutty fragrance, it is the Asian taro. Other tubers may be similar outside and inside, having the same speckling, but the fragrance will be missing.

My favorite recipe lives at

Anonymous said...

Ñame and Malanga though similar, are not the same at all. Ñame grows much bigger, has almost always bronw specs and the taste is somewhat bland. Malanga in the other hand, has a very distinct flavor, like?.Nah, only malanga tastes like malanga. Use widely in Cuba as a classy tuber, to make baby food, to nurse people with stomach ulcers back to health, as part of an "AJIACO" , as "frituritas" (amazing stuff) or even malanguita ships. Nothing compares, if you try the real stuff, you won’t accept substitutes.

Anonymous said...

The reason why your girl liked it and your boy didn't is that *GASP* TARO ROOT SMELLS LIKE SEMEN. My mom just boiled one and the smell inhabited the house and I want to laugh vomiting. Also, persimmon smells the same. The hell. I'm not trying to be inappropriately vulgar nor am I insinuating anything about the female preference but... I swear.

SergeantDias said...

Taro root tastes real good. I grew up eating them in the Azores. The smell is actually favorable.

Melissa said...

I love coco malanga. In Dominican Republic you can make this various ways but my favorite is really simple. peel and chop into medium sized pieces and boil in salty water for about 20 min or until you poke it with a fork and its soft like you would a potato. you can eat this with eggs, salami (fried) and queso frito (fried cheese)its a white cheese that you can fry.A popular brand is tropical cheese. you can eat this for breakfast or dinner. YUMM!!

Sam said...

It is most likely Malanga or S. American Taro.
the Asian Taro is not dry, once pilled it is sticky like Okra and hard to handle until cooked, mostly fried or in meet stew.

Sam said...

...meat stew...

Beamer said...

I found Melanga better then regular potato as I sliced it and fried it after coating it with salt pepper and some spice powders....and bread crumbs or Sooji.