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Taro burger with rice, fresh herbs and vegetables

This holiday season, I am always reminded to be more grateful, and more industrious with the food we grow on our farm. We just harvested a large amount of taro – and of course my first thought was to make another large batch of taro burgers. This time I didn’t have the ingredients I had on hand for my last taro burger recipe, Taro Millet Burgers so I had to experiment again! The taro burger recipe below features taro, rice and fresh herbs and vegetables. You could probably make it vegan if you left out the eggs but I think the little bit of extra protein from eggs is a bonus in this recipe.

More about Taro

Taro is Native to South India and Southeast Asia and in Hawaii is considered a “canoe plant” (it was brought here by the first Polynesian settlers. Kalo (the Hawaiian word for Taro) has extreme significance in Hawaiian diet and culture. In the Native Hawaiian creation story , taro is the the older brother of mankind. Throughout Hawaii’s history, taro remained a staple crop and a significant part of the diet. Today, on the Hawaiian Islands kalo is still consumed regularly, but does not make up as large of a percentage of the diet as it had previously.

The scientific name for taro is Colocasia esculenta. It belongs to the Araceae (aroid) family, in the large genus, Colocasia. There are many varieties within 2 main types, dryland taro and wetland taro. We grow dryland taro in our garden, in raised rows. We get plenty of rain here on the Hāmākua coast of Big Island so this method is suitable and there is no need for us to grow wetland taro in Lo’i (taro ponds).

All of the taro plant is edible. However most people who are referring to taro, are referring to the root or corm when they say taro. In addition to the root, both the leaves and the stems of taro are also edible. But, all parts of the plant need to be thoroughly cooked; otherwise they contain too much calcium oxalate, which is considered toxic and will result in a very itchy and uncomfortable throat when consumed undercooked.

You can even put all of the taro plant in the pressure cooker at once. First the steam basket, then taro root, then stems and then leaves. The stems have a delicious nutty taste when they are freshly cooked and warm. The corms are often compared to potatoes, but they are stickier, starchier, and tastier. The also have a slightly nutty taste.

Health benefits of taro

Taro has so many health benefits. Many people believe that eating taro is an essential part of a healthy diet. It is not easy to harvest and cook it, you have to dig it up, wash it, cook it, then process it. It sticks to everything and leaves quite a mess! But it is worth it. The whole process, (including digestion) slows you down and makes your  truly appreciate the food. Taro root is high in fiber and potassium and also contains some folate, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and a small amount of calcium. See the nutrition facts in the chart below.

 

Taro nutrition Facts

(Colocasia esculenta (L.) schott), raw, Value per 100 g, (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 112 Kcal 6%
Carbohydrates 26.46 g 20%
Protein 1.50 g 3%
Total Fat 0.20 g <1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g 11%
Vitamins
Folates 22 µg 5.5%
Niacin 0.600 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid 0.303 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.283 mg 23%
Riboflavin 0.025 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.095 mg 8%
Vitamin A 76 IU 2.5%
Vitamin C 4.5 mg 7%
Vitamin E 2.38 mg 20%
Vitamin K 1 µg 1%
Electrolytes
Sodium 11 mg <1%
Potassium 591 mg 12.5%
Minerals
Calcium 43 mg 4%
Copper 0.172 mg 19%
Iron 0.55 mg 7%
Magnesium 33 mg 8%
Manganese 0.383 mg 1.5%
Selenium 0.7 µg 1%
Zinc 0.23 mg 2%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-ß 35 µg
Carotene-α 0 µg
Cryptoxanthin-ß 20 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 µg

 

Taro Burger Recipe

yield: 30 burgers

equipment: food processor, pressure cooker (optional)

 

ingredients

  • 10 pounds taro or approx 15 cups roughly pureed and cooked taro root (enough to fill up a whole pressure cooker)
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 carrots (grated, I used a my food processor since it was gonna get dirty any way)
  • 2 cups chopped greens (kale, spinach, etc)
  • 2 onions (sliced, again I sliced them quick in the processor)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (I used the jar of minced organic garlic from costco – economical and quick)
  • a few handful lots of herbs (this time we used fresh rosemary, vietnamese coriander, parsely and stick thyme)
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt
  • lots of ground pepper
  • ¼ cup or so olive oil or coconut oil
  • 3 cups breadcrumbs (can do gluten-free crumbs!)

steps for taro burger recipe:

  1. first cook taro until it is soft and easily sliced with a knife (see post on cooking taro in a pressure cooker)
  2. Cook white rice (2.5 cups water, 2 cups rice, bring to boil and cover for 20 minutes)
  3. Sautee onions and carrots in olive oil, add garlic and cook until soft, add chopped greens and cook until wilted.
  4. While you got the veggies going, chop taro into chucks and place food processor
  5. Pulse taro in processor until mostly uniform and not very chunky. This may take several batches.
  6. Remove and place in large mixing bowl
  7. Now in food processor blend ½ the amount of cooked rice, eggs, herbs, soy sauce, salt, pepper.
  8. Mix into the large mixing bowl with taro and add the other ½ of the rice
  9. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined.
  10. In another bowl empty about a cup of breadcrumbs. Make balls out of the taro mixture, cover them in breadcrumbs and then press to make a patty. Add more breadcrumbs as needed to complete covering the taro burgers in breadcrumbs.

You can panfry the taro burgers or baked them. In this bulk recipe I did both. The panfried ones had a nice crispy outside. The baked ones didn’t crisp up so well but will be great frozen and then crisped up in a pan.

  1. To fry them place 2 tablespoons oil in a heated pan, fry for about 5 minutes on each side being carfeful not to burn. Add more oil as needed to get em crispy.
  2. To bake, oil a baking pan or sheet and place patties in preheated oven 375-400 degree F, flip burgers after about 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy! Make an exotic aioli and enjoy these on fresh buns or sourdough – snack on the them cold straight outta the fridge.

 

If you liked this recipe try my…

 

Taro Millet Veggie Burger

Black Bean Quinoa and Millet Veggie Burger

 

resources:

http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/December-2017/The-Essential-Guide-to-Taro-How-Kalo-is-Eaten-Around-the-World/

Taro can be prepared in an enormous variety of ways

 

Taro: Good For More Than Poi

 

Can Taro Farming Heal Hawaii?