I'm bored of potatoes.
January 13, 2012 2:09 AM   Subscribe

Recipes for unusual Tubers: There are so many of these unusual tubers and root vegetables about that I've just never really cooked or (in some cases) even eaten; Cassava, Taro, true Yam (Dioscorea), Oxalis Tuberosa (Oka), Sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke or "Helianthus tuberosus"). What do these things go well with and how have you cooked them or eaten them?

Also some of these are quite toxic when raw: Cassava contains cyanide compounds; Taro contains Calcium Oxolate etc. if you are careful to prepare and cook properly - I presume they are reasonably safe?
posted by mary8nne to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
The main problem I have is that its rather difficult to find reputable recipes for these vegetables. They just do not seem to be used (or known) in the European cooking tradition. For instance Larousse Gastronomique has pages on the Potato but nothing beyond a casual definition of Taro and a couple of desert recipes using Tapioca which is made from Cassava (Manioc).
posted by mary8nne at 2:23 AM on January 13, 2012


Tastespotting draws from many sites & cuisines. I've been amazed at what I can find used there. Though I suppose this also depends on your definition of "reputable recipes".
posted by knile at 2:54 AM on January 13, 2012


Farinha de mandioca and tapioca flour are two flours made of cassava, which have distinct uses and taste pretty different to cooking whole cassava by itself. Personally I like it cut into chips and deep fried, a popular side dish in Brazil. You should be able to find it frozen in Indian and some Asian food stores.
posted by Joe Chip at 2:57 AM on January 13, 2012


Jerusalem artichoke are lovely. They have a nice earthy, artichokey flavour (though they're a little difficult to peel). In fact, I'm making our latest batch into a dip for tonight (something like this, but probably with a bit of cream and cheese as it was a little watery last time). We get ours in our veg box from Riverford, who also do an excellent job of providing many interesting recipes for them.

And, ehem, a small word of caution, though - they are very tasty, but have a tendency to make one rather farty the day after. Be prepared...
posted by brambory at 3:18 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Delia Smith's Carrot and Jerusalem Artichoke soup is delicious. I've also used thinly sliced jerusalem artichoke as a water chestnut substitute in stir-fries with great success.
posted by Bodd at 4:25 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I grew up eating oka (New Zealand yam). They are great just roasted along with your meat (if you eat meat).
posted by gaspode at 5:22 AM on January 13, 2012


Chow just ran some recipes for making vegetable chips, and taro chips were included. I haven't tried it, but it sounds great.
posted by TrarNoir at 5:35 AM on January 13, 2012


Jerusalem artichoke (also sometimes called sunchoke) is delicious. An easy way to prepare it is to simmer with some chicken or vegetable stock and a few sliced shallots or onions until tender. Then puree the whole thing in a blender. It's one of my favorite ways to have it.
posted by slkinsey at 5:41 AM on January 13, 2012


The traditional, garlicy recipe for yuca Cuban style.
posted by Stoatfarm at 6:36 AM on January 13, 2012


Whenever I ask the Caribbean ladies at the market what to do with weird looking roots, the answer is always the same. "Peel it and bile it, dahlin'." [boil]
posted by Jode at 7:14 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taro is also referred to by its genus Colocasia and in Arabic countries as kolkas or qulqas.

egyptian-cuisine-recipes.com, despite its somewhat dodgy and spammy-sounding domain, generally offers pretty authentic recipes, including one for قلقاس (qulqas).

Jerusalem artichoke are lovely. They have a nice earthy, artichokey flavour (though they're a little difficult to peel).

I've never bothered peeling prior to cooking them, the peels slide right off when cooked. And I don't know about "reputable" but i have always just boiled them with a little salt in water, as you would with a potato.

You might also like fufu which is made from a variety of starch vegetables including some tubers (Yam or Cassava).
posted by Deathalicious at 7:17 AM on January 13, 2012


Also some of these are quite toxic when raw: Cassava contains cyanide compounds; Taro contains Calcium Oxolate etc. if you are careful to prepare and cook properly - I presume they are reasonably safe?

On this note, plenty of foods are toxic before being cooked. Kidney beans, for example, must be boiled for at least 10 minutes to be considered safe to eat.

In most cases, boiling the food in water for a predetermined time will do the trick (apparently steaming is a bad idea). If you are concerned about safety, I probably would discard the boiling water (say, if you were planning on making the dish into a soup) and replace it with fresh.

Here's an excellent article on the toxicity of cassava.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:23 AM on January 13, 2012


Yuca/cassava/manioc: my favorite way to eat yuca is fried, go to a salvadorean/cuban/puerto rican or other tropical-ish restaurant and you will often be able to sample yuca prepared this way. To make at home:
1. Peel the yuca (some people cook it in large pieces without peeling, and the peel kind of sloughs off after, up to you, i think). Then break or cut into large chunks, (don't worry too much, it will be easier to cut into serving size pieces after this first cooking.)
2. Boil it until tender but not mushy and falling apart. This may take awhile, make sure it's cooked through. If you're handy with a pressure cooker, that will make the boiling process shorter, but I find it easier to overcook since I don't check it as often.
3. Drain the pieces well and break up and cut into slices or sticks for frying. Try to get the more woody core fibers out of the middle of the tuber as you are trimming and cutting.
4. Now with nice dry pieces, start frying in hot vegetable oil (canola, soybean, sunflower, whatever you prefer for frying). I like to use a heavy cast iron pan with a quarter or half inch of oil, flipping once or twice. As the pieces are frying you can kind of smash them flatter with your spatula or spoon, this helps them spread out and get nice and crispy all over.
5. Take out of the oil when warm golden color and salt immediately, they are best when hot! Eat with limey chile-y mayonnaise, or black beans, or stewed pork and tomatoes or whatever!

I also like eating taro in pretty much exactly the way I've just described! Boil first to avoid toughness and the itchy mouthfeel of that pesky Calcium Oxolate.

Oka is similar to another tuber called olluco, which I'm more familiar with. I think I've eaten both, though. They are sweet and soft when baked. Olluco stays pretty crisp in texture, even when cooked, and a popular preparation in Peru is to grate it while raw and then cook it in soups or saute it up with meat or other vegetables.

One tuber not on your list: yacon, relative of and very similar to the Jerusalem artichoke. This is native to the Andes but becoming more widespread and popular, I've known people who grew it in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Raw, it's crunchy and juicy. It's become popular to cook it down into sweet jams or syrups (all that starch converts to sugar), you might be able to find it at a natural food store.
posted by dahliachewswell at 11:10 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've eaten taro a lot. Mostly just boiled and sprinkled with salt. You can also cook it as chips (french fries), or mash it or do anything else you would do with potatoes. But the one thing no one has mentioned above, which is kind of awesome, is taro ice cream. There are recipes here, here or here. (I don't understand why the first two aren't purple. Taro ice cream should be purple.)
posted by lollusc at 5:16 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recently made a Jerusalem artichoke gratin. You could probably use a potato gratin recipe; the recipe I used, which I can no longer find, contained cream, salt and pepper, and parmigiano reggiano, I think. It was my first time cooking Jerusalem artichokes, so I had no fancy intentions; it turned out well. I left the skins on, and just sliced them finely.
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:05 PM on January 13, 2012


The way I love Jerusalem artichokes is to take the fiddly skin off and poach them in milk. Once they're almost done, strain off the artichokes and make a white sauce with the milk. Once it's nice and thick, add back in the artichokes. This is also nice if you saute some whole or halved chestnut mushrooms in butter and add them in to the sauce.

As others have noted: these things'll make you fart a lot.
posted by TheDonF at 6:32 PM on January 14, 2012


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