Monday, June 25, 2018

Hainan's taro rice

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes when people come over for dinner in summertime. At times like these, I just want to just toss some meat and veggies on the barbecue and offer easy sides.

Taro rice totally fits the bill. It’s delicious, it’s unusual, it’s easy, and it seems vaguely sinful since toasted coconut and peanuts are clambering around in there among the silky chunks of lavender taro.

I have a recipe for this in All Under Heaven, but I’ve course I’ve been playing around with it in the interim. After all, this is a favorite, and I’m always looking for shortcuts.

What I’ve discovered is this: the taro can be microwaved and then tossed into the rice cooker with the rice, instead of going to the bother of steaming it. I also cube my taro and freeze it for things like this and last week’s scallion bread, since it makes these dishes a real breeze.
Steam the taro with the rice - easy!

With only sticky rice, green onions, garlic, and salt rounding out the shopping list, I therefore always have all of the ingredients on hand, which makes this an ideal spur of the moment meal.

Taro rice
Hăinán yùfàn 海南芋飯
Serves 4 to 6

1½ cups | 325 g raw sticky rice (long grain best, but short grain still delicious)
Water, as needed
1 cup | 130 g cubed raw taro
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped
... and done
1 cup toasted coconut, preferably strips rather than flakes (see Tips)
½ cup toasted peanuts

1. Rinse the rice and place it in your rice cooker. Add water as directed. (See Tips.) Place the taro in a microwaveable bowl, add about 2 tablespoons water, and microwave on high for about 5 minutes, then drain and toss the partially cooked taro onto the rice. Close the cooker and steam the rice and taro together.

2. While the rice is cooking, place the salt, garlic, and green onions in a large work bowl and rub them together, preferably with your fingers.

3. When the rice is done, remove the taro to the work bowl and lightly break it apart with a fork. Then toss in the cooked rice, coconut, and peanuts. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve hot.


Toast the coconut
Each rice cooker is different, so follow its directions and use its measuring cup to make around 2 cups steamed rice.

For toasted coconut, spread the coconut on a small tray and toast it in the oven at 300°F | 150°C just until it turns a golden brown and smells delicious. Keep an eye on it, as it turns from brown to black in a flash.

If you have leftovers, microwave them and top with a fried egg seasoned with a dash of regular soy sauce. Breakfast perfected.


  1. Darling. Your blog is fantastic. The taro intrigues me. Can’t wait to try this. Love you. Now let me see, did I see something about plum liquor !!

  2. I already knew you were one of my favorite culinary writers, but your love for taro certainly seals the deal!

    When people say taro rice, the dish I have in mind has lots of dried shrimp, pork belly, white pepper and soy. The pork belly is sliced and stir fried to render out some of the fat, and then the yam and the rice (regular long grain, not sticky) is stir fried in the fat with a bit of garlic, soy sauce and salt. It then all goes into a rice cooker (with chicken stock for that extra oomph if you have it) and then dinner is served!