How to Cook Malanga

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Today I have a root vegetable known as kalo, dasheen, madhumbe, arbi, and many more names across the globe. Can you guess what it is? Well, if your answer is taro roots, then bravo; but how to cook malanga?

Taro root or malanga is a root vegetable that contains a very high amount of fiber and protein. That’s why I am here with a mouth-watering recipe on how to cook malanga?

How to Cook Malanga

Ingredients Required

  • 2-3 Malangas/ Taro roots (with leaves).
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lime (optional)
  • Coriander
  • Oregano
  • Additional herbs for meat (rosemary, thyme, etc.)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Chili flakes
  • Meat of your choice (diced-bacon/bacon-strips/chicken/crab-meat) 
Close up shot of taro roots

Step #1: Taro Cooking Preparation

Just behind the peel of the taro are calcium oxalate crystals. If you don’t neutralize it during cooking, this thick and bitter material will annoy your throat and skin. Thus, when preparing taro, use gloves or grease your hands.

The calcium oxalate crystals in taro can be removed by blanching them in hot water for 5 minutes. To avoid the stickiness, you must first remove the thick, slightly hairy skin of taro with a blade under running water.

Then place peeled, cut taro slices in acidulated water to prevent discoloration. After all of this, collect the listed ingredients and choose one of the methods listed below in step 2.

Step #2: Choose Your Style of Cooking Malanga

Suggestions for Taro Cooking

  1. Taro must be prepared and served hot. Taro turns hard and waxy when it cools after cooking, making it difficult to eat. Over boiling and mashing taro, which you could do with mortar and pestle, makes it gummy.
  2. Peel and cut your malanga into chunks, then simmer for 15-20 minutes or until soft, just like a potato.
  3. After parboiling, roast the taro. In a 400°F (204°C) oven, roast for 10 minutes. Roasted malangas have a light, dry, chewy texture and a sweet flavor.
  4. Serve thinly sliced taro stir-fried or fried with a sauce. Taro can be pan-fried or deep-fried and chopped into chips or strips.
    You can make Crêpes and pancakes with it grated. It can be cut into cubes and cooked before being served with rice.
  5. A “basket” of shredded, deep-fried malanga is used to carry stir-fried vegetables and fish in Chinese cuisine.
  6. Cook chunked taro in a sauce or stew. Taro thickens and absorbs the taste of the food it is added to in soups and stews.
  7. Taro can be used to absorb up the flavor of other ingredients in oily recipes like steaming sliced pork belly.
  8. Because baked taro becomes meaty yet dry, serve it with butter or beef juices.
  9. Taro leaves can be used to wrap other foods for baking or cooked like spinach. Cooking destroys the calcium oxalate in taro leaves. That’s why boil taro leaves for 45 minutes or until incredibly tender in two shifts with water.

Step #3: Choose Your Meat of Choice

People usually like to have malanga as a side dish rather than having it in the main course. These taro roots are very mild in taste and can complement any intensely flavored main course meal.

So to begin with, choose your main course meal. Well, if you enjoy non-vegetarian meals, then I highly suggest you go for freshly diced bacon.

But, if you are on the vegan supplement or don’t want to have meat in your meal, you can replace bacon with tofu and pan-fry it with a little bit of marination.

Moreover, you can also go for crab meat or chicken breasts, which will compliment your malanga at par.

Step #4: Cooking Methods

This guide highlights malanga as a side dish that you can enjoy with a good portion of meat. However, you can cook it using any of the suggestions listed above.

To make a complete brunch for your weekend, you can pick any of the following methods to cook your taro roots with a meat/vegetarian alternative.

Method #1: Taro Baking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 deg. Fahrenheit.
  2. Massage the taro or malanga with vegetable oil with a fork and season with salt. Using the prongs of a fork, prick the tuber.
  3. Arrange the malanga on a baking sheet or the oven rack immediately.
  4. Place it in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes (depending on the thickness) at 350°F, turning halfway through.
  5. Bake until a knife put into the flesh of the tuber finds no resistance when punctured. The temperature inside the oven should be around 210 degrees Fahrenheit.

Method #2: Taro Roasting Techniques

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread the taro out on a baking sheet or pan. Drizzle olive oil or lard over the taro and mix well. The malanga should be equally covered, and you should lightly oil the pan all over.
  3. Add salt, dry peppers, or spices to taste.
  4. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown and a spatula slides easily under them.
  5. Continue to roast for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until done.

Method #3: Malanga Boiling Instructions

  1. Boil until soft, or until a sharp blade can penetrate the taro with little resistance, in moderately salted water.
  2. Drain the water from the malanga and place it in a sieve to dry. Malanga will keep cooking even after you remove them from the boiling water.
  3. After boiling the malanga, they stay intact for an hour at room temperature. As an hour passes by, the veggie starts turning soggy and doesn’t taste good afterward.
Boiling pan with smoke

Step #5: Plating and Garnishing

Once you are done with all of the main stuff, it’s time to keep everything on your plate. Remember, if the food looks good, it tastes even better.

Start with plating the meat, place the meat in the center of a white plate, sprinkle some pepper and roasted sesame seeds for an extra punch of flavor and finally garnish the meal with thyme leaves.

Next, take a plate that is relatively more minor in size than the previous one. Place your cooked malanga or taro roots on the dish.

Dazzle some chili flakes or oregano or extra flavor and present it with a slice of lime on the side. And that’s it, grab your fork and cut into freshly cooked malangas with meat/tofu.

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Research reveals that taro roots or malangas have high nutritional value. It is a potassium-rich vegetable that includes magnesium, phosphate, and iron.

The taro plant leaves are high in beta-carotene, calcium, and vitamin C. Also, it is a high-fiber, low-sodium vegetable. Estimations say that a half-cup of taro has 100 calories in it, and it has medicinal properties to fit cancerous cells.

Hence, including malanga in your diet will add to your taste buds and will benefit your health. 

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.