Today, we’re going to try a hairy black potato with a rough peel that may irritate your skin, with flesh that may turn grey when cooked and with a texture that may include a hint of slime.
Right, now here’s the good part. When the eddo is cooked it has a slightly sweet, chestnut flavour and silky smooth texture that makes our everyday potato seem awfully boring.
The barrel-shaped tropical tuber is part of the taro family, with 200 relatives of all shapes and sizes. It’s showing up in more and more mainstream supermarkets, usually cosying up to the other tropical roots.
When I showed it to my Jamaican neighbour, she sniffed and said she prefers the coco. The next day I saw a sign for cocos at Loblaw’s. It looked remarkably similar, with more of a bell shape, and cost a lot more than the $1.99 a pound I’d paid.
I still didn’t know what to do with my hairy potatoes. The woman at the fruit and veg store where I bought the first batch obviously knew them but didn’t speak enough English to help. We exchanged our usual big smiles.
The next store owner I spoke to, from Shanghai, was equally enthusiastic. He recommended cooking them first, then slipping off the peel. He said the Chinese also serve them sprinkled with sugar. I later read they’re part of the filling for moon cakes during the midautumn festival.
Some say the eddo has three times the fibre of a regular potato, with a low glycemic index, in case that helps sell you on this homely tuber.
Buy and Store
- Eddoes are available year-round from countries such as Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Colombia.
- Choose firm, dry tubers with no signs of shrivelling or mould.
- Buy eddoes of a similar size so they cook evenly.
- Store in a cool, dry place up to a month.
- Do not refrigerate.
- Use immediately if they begin to soften.
- Always cook eddoes before eating. They’re great steamed, boiled or fried.
- Crystals of calcium oxalate just beneath the peel may irritate some people’s skin. If this is you, use gloves to peel and handle eddoes.
- Some people (including me), prefer to peel the eddo before cooking. Use a sturdy peeler or paring knife. Rinse to remove any hairy bits. Or boil them whole, cut in half when cooked and slip off the skin.
- The eddo’s flesh is white or cream-coloured with pink or purple flecks.
- Cooked eddoes can turn a slight purplish grey. This is normal.
Boil: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add whole or peeled eddoes. Simmer about 20 minutes or until a knife tip slides in easily. Don’t overcook.
Microwave: Rinse eddoes. Using a microwaveable steamer or a plastic colander that fits inside another bowl, add 1/2 cup water to bottom of the bowl. Place eddoes in the top of the colander part. Cook 2 lb (1 kg) eddoes on High for about 8 minutes. Ready when a paring knife slides in without resistance.
One more thing — be sure to clean pots and utensils soon after cooking eddoes or you’ll have a sticky mess to deal with.
- Eddoes can replace potatoes in many dishes; use in any dish calling for taro.
- After cooking, they can be sliced, grated or mashed with milk and butter.
- Do not serve cold; reheat if necessary.
- Eddoes shine in soups and stews where they happily absorb other flavours. Boil or parboil them before adding to ensure they’re fully cooked.
- They’re fantastic in a chicken or vegetable curry. Think Indian aloo gobi with cauliflower.
- Eddoes love rich pork dishes.
- Deep-fry cooked eddo into fritters. These are especially good on Caribbean vacations.
- Keep it simple by cutting cooked eddo in half or quarters and tossing in a pan sizzling with butter, cooked onions and sliced garlic. Serve hot.
Crunchy on the outside and tender inside, these fried tropical potatoes are adapted from my favourite vegetable writer Elizabeth Schneider.
8 smaller eddoes of equal size
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp each: brown or yellow mustard seeds, cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp each: hot or smoked paprika, ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Scrub eddoes and drop into boiling salted water. Boil until barely tender when pierced, about 10 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, trim ends and slide off skin or remove with paring knife. Cut in half or quarters, depending on size.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add mustard and cumin seeds, stir to coat then add eddoes in a single layer, shaking pan to distribute spices. Cook in batches if necessary. Reduce heat slightly and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. When pieces are brown, sprinkle with spices and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.