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How to Eat an Unfamiliar Vegetable {Friday Five}

Hawaiian taro root I saw plenty of unfamiliar produce at farmers' markets in Hawaii. Often I ask farmers what to do with strange items but when I purchased the above taro root from a non-native English speaker, I didn't receive much guidance. My family was suspect of the taro after eating poi and I wanted to show them it could be tasty so I employed my five step plan to enjoy an unfamiliar vegetable:

1. Raw - I taste everything raw to see what the initial characteristics are like. In the case of taro our tongues were coated with thick starch and not much other flavor. I knew this meant we had to cook the taro for a good while to break down the starch and add heavy seasoning to trick our tastebuds.

2. Steamed - A quick steam is a good way to enjoy vegetables whose initial raw taste has good flavor. I suspected that taro would take a long time to steam thoroughly so we skipped this step.

3. Boiled and Pureed - Most root vegetables taste good when boiled in salted water. Puree with a little butter if the texture is off putting. Peas, beans, and leaf vegetables can also be quickly boiled and added to purees. I meant to try boiling taro but ran out of space on the range. bacon fried taro wedges 4. Oven Roasted - Nearly all produce, including fruit, taste sweeter after a trip in a hot oven. Toss the raw product with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper (or brown sugar in the case of fruit) and cook until caramelized. Roasted taro mixed nicely with potatoes prepared the same way.

5. Fried in Bacon Fat - When all else fails, pull out the big guns: bacon drippings. There is precious little that doesn't taste amazing when fried in bacon fat and indeed the taro was more than palatable this way. To completely cook the starch, we fried each half-inch side for five minutes.

What do you do when you come across an unfamiliar vegetable?

Please excuse the poorly lit photos. Despite ample outdoor light for some reason I chose to take pictures in the kitchen. I blame it on the mai tais.