Updated: March 7, 2014 1:23PM
I saw them, a big pile of yautia, about a buck a pound, brown and hairy, globular and oblong. The check-out person didn’t recognize them and didn’t seem to believe me when I told her what they were. She rang them up as potatoes.
Yautia (pronounced yow-TEA-ah) is a root. It’s very similar to taro (in fact yautia and taro were mixed together in the bin). Yautia is called cocoyam in Nigeria and malanga in Cuba.
Following the principle of “when in doubt, boil,” I boiled two medium-sized yautia. Skinned, the yautia are slimy with starch, much like like potatoes, but they’re denser and more fibrous than their spud brothers, with pure white flesh. Once cooked, yautia have the slightly gluey consistency of chestnuts, and they actually taste a little like chestnuts, with mildly ham-like notes.
At 300 calories per cup, yautia is rather rich; no butter required. It’s also one of the most hypoallergenic foods around, and because its starch molecules are very small, yautia has earned the title of “the most easily digestible of all complex carbohydrates.”
If you’re a first-timer with yautia, try this simple recipe:
1. Skin two pounds of yautia and dice into roughly 1 inch cubes
2. Boil about 12 minutes
3. Serve (salt to taste)
Once you’ve mastered boiling water, try frying thin-sliced yautia; to serve, sprinkle with salt and chili flakes.