Recipes · Cooking tips · Techniques

Malanga

Malanga

Malanga is a root vegetable that’s used in the Caribbean, Latin America among other countries. In Cuban cuisine it’s used in soups, stews, mashed, fried, and boiled. We’ll go through what this simple tuber is, and offer a collection of recipes to use it in.

Several unpeeled, uncut malangas arranged on a wood cutting board.

 

What is malanga?

It’s a brown, shaggy tuber that has a white, inside. It originated in South and Central America and is also grown in the Caribbean including Puerto Rico and Cuba. It’s a staple in these countries and is used in Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, among others.

 

Are malanga and taro the same thing?

They are from the same family (Araceae) however they belong to different genus groups. Malanga belongs to the genus Xanthosoma and taro belongs to the genus Colocasia.

 

How can you tell them apart? The skin on malanga is brown and has a wiry, shaggy texture. Taro is also brown, but lighter in color and the skin is a bit smoother, less bristly. Taro also has a bulb like shape, while the malanga is long and tapers at one end.

One large malanga on a wood cutting board.

 

On the inside: The flesh is white, almost bright white. Taro’s flesh can vary between white, cream colored with purple flecks.

A chunk of a peeled malanga on a wood cutting board.

 

How to select a good malanga?

Pick a tuber that is firm all over without any soft spots. Make sure it’s well-formed and is free of dents, blemishes, mold, etc.

 

How to store malanga?

Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Much in the same way you store potatoes. Once peeled and cut, keep it in a bowl of fresh, cold water to slow down the browning process. Make sure to rinse well before using.

 

How to peel malanga

Peeling a malanga can be a little tricky. The wiry, thick exterior doesn’t work well with a peeler. The white inside is very slippery. It’s important to take care when handling. Use a paper or kitchen towel to help you get a good grip if necessary.

 

The best way I’ve found, is to peel it much like you would a pumpkin or butternut squash. First, cut the ends off to create a stable base. Then cut it into two or three pieces, depending on its size, which can vary quite a bit. They can be fairly large weighing a couple of pounds, to small weighing less than a pound.

 

Next, stand the piece on the widest end and cut off thin slices working all the way around until the peel is gone.

An image of a hand holding and peeling a malanga with a large knife on a wood cutting board.

 

 

Keep the peeled malanga in a bowl of cold water (just like you would with a peeled potato) to slow the browning process. Rinse with fresh cold water once you’re all done.

Peeled, cubed malanga covered with water in a glass bowl.

 

Can it be eaten raw?

No. It must be fully cooked before consuming. Popular preparations include: boiled, mashed, fried or added to soups or stews.

 

What does malanga taste like?

It has a mild, earthy taste with a texture similar to a potato.

 

What is it called in English?

It’s called malanga in Spanish and English.

 

How to Cook Malanga

Malanga can be boiled, fried and baked. It can be enjoyed on its own or added to soups, stews, and meat dishes. Here are five recipes to inspire you to use this great root vegetable.

 

Crema de Malanga – Cream of Malanga Soup

Crema de Malanga served in a red bowl and garnished with chopped parsley and drops of olive oil
 

 

Frituras de Malanga – Malanga Fritters

Malanga fritters displayed on a white platter.

 

Puré de Malanga– Mashed Malanga

Puré de Malanga with a pat of melting butter, served in a red bowl.

 

Cuban Ajiaco – A hearty soup that features root vegetables including Malanga

Close up of Ajiaco soup served in a white bowl

 

Malanga Chips – These are baked not fried

Malanga chips in a terracotta bowl on a red, plaid linen.

 

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