After a great 4th of July party at a friend’s (thanks Rebecca!) and then a Saturday of kayaking, I really needed to work on my house renovations, so this week, I kept my adventure simple. I walked into my grocery store, and walked out with a Malanga root (Malanga amarilla). In some places, such as Cuba and the ubiquitous internet, taro roots are sometimes called Malanga roots, but taro is a different species (Colocasia esculenta) altogether. The taro root in the grocery store was much smaller, had regular lines on it, and was a little hairy with small roots. The Malanga tuber was large (like the size of a hefty mango), and definitely did not have the texture of a taro root: no cute little red lines mixed in when you viewed the cross-section. Instead, when sliced, this root looked like a mix of worms squished together. Tiny little squished worms.
And it is fleshier – kindof like an eggplant. But it is a common ingredient in much of Latin American dishes: it is used in Cuban food a lot and is apparently great for thickening stews (Specialty Produce website). So I’m hoping I haven’t had it before, because this needs to count as my adventure for this week! (I’m vegetarian so I don’t eat most Cuban food, so I’m probably okay.) Tonight I am grilling slices in olive oil, some with various herbs, and then I have created a mushroom shallot dip.
Taste: the plain grilled root tastes good — and now that it is cooked, it looks so much better!. Tastes like a nuttier potato – and maintains it flavor as you consume, with no bitter aftertaste. Starchy (and apparently loaded with calories), it can be used as a wheat flour, because it is supposedly a very hypoallergenic food. (no original source found – I’m too hungry to track it down, but several websites given below state it.)
Taste with cheddar cheese: nice. like a healthier version of au gratin potatoes. Tastes “wheat-ier.’
Taste with dill and garlic: very nice.
Taste with thyme: don’t ever do this again – malanga does not equal potato in this case.
Taste with my mushroom shallot sour cream dipping sauce… very tasty with the dip, but there is a contrasting flavor once you run out of dip, so you have to keep dipping again.
Success. And no allergic reactions. Tomorrow night I’ll make malanga fritters I think, or add it in a soup – though it is too hot outside for soups, really.
On other fronts, when kayaking, we did something I didn’t know we could do – kayak under the C&O Canal. Apparently in a couple of places it becomes a viaduct. Very nice as we kayaked from the Potomac River via a cold spring-fed stream to this place, and then let the water of the C&O Canal drip on us as we passed under.
Next weekend, I’ll be going to Cold Springs, New York, to visit friends, in a trip promising to be filled with relaxation, good food, conversation and village wandering. It’ll be the first time I’ve ever been in New York outside of Manhattan or Long Island, so I’ll post about it next week.
Have a great remaining 30 minutes of the 4th of July weekend….
More info about malanga roots: