While larger varieties of taro are available, baby taro (dasheen) is the preferred variety throughout much of Asia. In Japan, taro is known as satoimo – literally, the village potato – and it is often cooked nimono-style (simmered or stewed). Satoimo no nimono (simmered taro) is a simple dish, and one of the most popular comfort foods in Japan. It can be served as a side dish, added to soups or simmered with meats.
600 g (about 12) baby taro*
3 tsp instant dashi*
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce*
blanched English spinach and asparagus and beef skewers (optional; see recipe below), to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place taro in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes or until starting to soften. Drain. When cool enough to handle, using a small knife, peel and discard skins.
Place taro in a saucepan with 500 ml water, dashi, sugar, ¼ tsp salt and soy sauce over high heat. Stir to combine, then place a small plate on top to keep taro submerged. Cover and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for a further 15 minutes or until tender.
Allow taro to cool in cooking liquid. Serve at room temperature or heated, with blanched spinach and beef and asparagus skewers, if desired.
Beef and asparagus skewers (asupara niku kushiyaki)
Blanch 12 asparagus spears and cut in half lengthwise. Cut a 350 g piece of beef scotch fillet into 24 slices and flatten each with a rolling pin to 3 mm thick. Wrap each asparagus half with a piece of beef and secure 3 asparagus and beef rolls onto a wooden skewer (you will need 8 x 15 cm wooden skewers). Coat with 1 tbsp vegetable oil mixed with 2 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tbsp mirin, and marinate for 15 minutes. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Drain skewers, reserving marinade. Cook skewers, in 2 batches, for 1 minute each side or until browned on both sides. Return skewers to pan, add reserved marinade and cook, turning to coat in sauce, for 30 seconds. Makes 8 skewers.
Baby taro is available from Asian food shops and selected greengrocers.
Dashi is sold as granules at Asian food shops and is used to make stock for Japanese dishes.
Japanese soy sauce is lighter than the Chinese version, which is heavier and darker.
As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 12, pg62.
Photography by John Laurie