taro root!

My conference went well, and March disappeared without another blog post. April is also looking busy, what with a gig last weekend (maybe if you're lucky, I'll post a picture of me playing!) and approximately a MILLION pages' worth of papers due by the first week of May... But I will try to post at least twice this month. As usual (the trying, not the post count).

I mostly know taro root as one of two things: a crossword puzzle answer for "Hawaiian vegetable" or as a purply chip in a bag of terra chips. But I see them (and purple-colored taro flavored desserts) whenever I go to the Super 88 Market (Asian market), and I always think "Someday I am going to buy one." I actually bought one once and then didn't use it in time... it molded in my fridge. Ashamed at wasting a taro root, the next time I bought one, I brought it home and used it RIGHT AWAY.

I washed it, peeled it and chopped it into chunks. It has a sort of sticky, creamy starchiness to it, as you can see from the knife. And it smelled a little weirder than I thought it would.

But I pressed bravely on! I boiled the chunks for 30ish minutes until soft, drained them and mashed them with some garlic powder and olive oil. The resulting mashed taro root was DELICIOUS, gorgeous (lavender!) and surprisingly similar to my mother's garlic mashed potatoes.
I served half of it mashed, just like that (though when reheating leftovers, I ended up adding a bit of soymilk), and used the rest to make:

1 large adult taro root (about the size of a coconut), or several (6?) baby taro roots
1 clove garlic, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
4-5 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
1 tsp dried herb(s) of your choice (optional, for additional flavor, but the taro and garlic are good enough on their own)
cornmeal or flour for dredging (optional, but gives patties a crunchier outside)

Peel taro root, chop it into chunks, and boil in lightly salted water until soft (20-30 mins, depending on size of chunks). Drain, then mash with the salt, garlic powder, 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, and herbs if using. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Shape the taro root into patties. If using the cornmeal or flour, dredge each side of each patty in it before placing it into the skillet. If NOT using cornmeal or flour, make sure the oil is hot before you put the patties in the pan, or they will stick. Cook 3-5 minutes on each side, adding a bit of extra oil for each batch (the patties, particularly if they have a coating, will soak up oil). A large taro root makes 8-12 patties, depending on how big you shape them.

Serve on buns or by themselves, with ketchup or chutney.