Sunday, February 5, 2012

Taro-Coconut Pudding-Porridge

I love avocados.  I mean love, as in I could eat them on everything, for every meal, and not be tired of them.  There are few other foods in my life that evoke a similar passionate response, but coconut and taro might be close. Taro bubble tea?  Best bubble tea ever.  Coconut milk? Amazing.  And so the idea of blending taro and coconut to create a yummy dessert is just too much to resist.  If I ever find a way to blend taro, coconut, and avocado, I might die from sheer happiness.
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This recipe was inspired by a trip to Fubon, our local Asian mega-store.  I was there to get supplies to make our own fresh, raw coconut milk.  While there, I noticed they were selling peeled taro and since I love taro but have never had a chance to cook with it, I bought some and brought it home determined to find a recipe.

What is taro?  It is a root vegetable that is native to Asian cuisine.  You, perhaps, were like me and introduced to taro because you decided to order the purple-colored bubble tea. (Taro-flavored desserts tend to be purple in color, perhaps derived from the purple flecks in the white flesh of the root -- of course that purple is just coloring, not the actual taro, which cooks up white.)  It is starchy and can be made into a savory dish (as in India) or a sweet dish (as in Vietnam).  This time I opted for sweet.

This recipe is based on ideas I found when searching, but it is my own creation.

Taro-Coconut Pudding
Prep time: approximately 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Serves: 8-10
4 c. diced taro (about 1.5lbs after it's been peeled)*
4 c. coconut milk (or two cans)**
2 c. shredded coconut (unsweetened -- but if you like super-sweet desserts, you can use sweetened)***
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
optional ingredients: 1/2 c. heavy cream, 1 TBSP minute tapioca

Dice the taro and place it in a large soup pot.

Add the other ingredients and mix.

Turn on high and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn it to medium and let it boil for approximately 10 minutes. The taro should start to get soft (like potatoes).  After ten minutes, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.

The amount of time that you let it simmer depends on how you like your pudding-porridge.  We like ours very thick with just a few pieces of chunky taro left. This is about 30 minutes of simmering.  If you prefer your pudding completely smooth, you can blend it after 20 minutes of simmering.

Serve hot, warm, or cold -- it's good no matter how you eat it!

A few notes:
*Taro can aggravate your skin, so you might want to use gloves.  Also, if your store does not offer pre-peeled taro root, you will have to steam it for about ten minutes and then peel it.  Check out this website for tips.
** I used the fresh, raw coconut milk that I made earlier in the day because it has no preservatives and excellent flavor.
**I use frozen shredded coconut that I buy at Fubon -- again, raw and no added sugar or preservatives, so it's better for you.

Please note: taro is toxic when raw, so it must be cooked before eating it! (Of course this leads me to wonder how people discovered this...and cassava...and rhubarb...and all the other toxic-in-a-certain-form plants.)


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