More often than not, things in the kitchen don’t turn out the way they planned — I’ll overestimate my multitasking abilities or underestimate the amount of time needed for something to thaw, bake, or chill.
Enter the happy accident that is this homemade taro paste. For a few weeks now, I had been jonesing for a popular taro coconut soup dessert commonly served at dim sum restaurants, called Sago Taro Soup. It’s a dessert soup typically served warm, and super creamy with a coconut milk soup base, flavored with chunks of taro and filled with mini tapioca balls. I’ve loved it ever since I was a kid, the combination of chewy tapioca and creamy taro has always been an addicting mix of contrasting textures that I loved to indulge in. Ever since moving back to LA this year, authentic Asian desserts have become less accessible, as most of them are located in San Gabriel Valley (we like to call it the “SGV”), which is annoyingly a 13-14 mile drive from West Hollywood, where we currently live.
Last weekend we decided to make the trek out to SGV to stock up on some Asian ingredients we had been missing in our cooking, and to my delight, they were selling packs of large pre-peeled taro root! I couldn’t help but snag a package, knowing I could make my favorite dim sum dessert with just a few ingredients.
The recipe is easy enough –
- Boil precut pieces of taro root until soft enough to be pierced with a fork.
- Then, remove from heat and drain the taro root from the water it was cooking in. At this point, you can cut the pieces of taro into smaller pieces, or slightly mash up the taro pieces based on your personal preference. The Sago Taro Soup is typically served with tapioca balls, so traditionally I’ve always seen the taro pieces in little chunks that complement the mini tapioca balls.
- The next step is pretty straightforward, heat a can of coconut milk in the pot and add anywhere from 3 teaspoons to a whole cup of sugar (I used about 1/2 cup), and a good pinch of salt.
- Toss in the taro pieces and there you go — simple right?
Well silly me decided it would be okay to rinse some dishes after I threw in the taro with the coconut milk. By the time I came back, which I swear wasn’t more than a minute later, my taro soup started to look more like taro fudge! I was so surprised, silly me to assume that a starch and sugar wouldn’t break down quickly in heat. But what I ended up with after a few more moments of stirring was a velvety looking taro paste, that tasted exactly like the fillings of the taro pastries at Asian bakeries like 85 Degrees and Kee Wah Bakery! What an incredible ingredient I just created that I can use for my next round of desserts or breads!