Sunday, June 03, 2007

E is for Eddoe


Sometimes when you are looking for one thing you find another. I was resigned to moving from E to F in the Great Big Veg Challenge. But as my daughter and I scoured the shelves at the supermarket, I caught sight of what looked like small mounds of elephant dung. Individually they were small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Their fibrous brown skins prickled with hair, like coconuts. If you look closely, they appear to be tattooed. These creatures looked friendly. The sort of vegetable we should take home. And joy of joy the label said "Eddoe". Even the name sounded cosy. But there was a whispering campaign against the Eddoes. A fellow shopper sidled up to me as I placed them in the trolley. He grimaced at them and uttered one word in my direction. "Slimy" he said. I asked him to justify this slur on the poor eddoe. "They're really, really slimy when you cook them." Alexandra was ready to put them back on the shelves. The defamation didn't stop there. A woman brushed past with a grinning toddler. She smiled. "I wouldn't recommend them. They're not worth the effort." But having invited the eddoes home I couldn't change my mind. I waited till the two whisperers were out of sight and went to the checkout.

When we got home the first thing Freddie did was to sniff them, which seemed reasonable. "Yuck! I'm not eating these." A quick bit of research informed me that Eddoes are also known around the world as Arbi, Taro, Nampi and Coco Yam and are used in Indian, Chinese and Caribbean cooking. This is what the Great Big Veg Challenge is all about I told Freddie. New horizons, new tastes, new experiences. "Yuck", said Fred. Eddoes came with an instruction leaflet which invited me to treat them more or less like potatoes. I have learnt that the best thing to do with a completely unfamiliar vegetable is to keep it simple. We needed to learn what it tasted like. So we decided to bake them. We washed the skin and rubbed a little salt in and placed them in an oven at 180C just like a baked potato. About 50 minutes later the Eddoes emerged. I cut a little cross in their hairy skin and peeled it back. The flesh of the Eddoe is greyish-white, not an attractive pallour. But there was no sign of the slime that we had been warned about. The flesh is like a sweet potato in texture. So it was Eddoes for lunch with a dollop of butter or soured cream.

With considerable bravery, Freddie and Alexandra put aside their fears and tucked in. "This is good." said Freddie."It's tastier than a potato" said Alex.
You aren't meant to eat the skin of the eddoe but Freddie scraped off every last trace of the flesh and ate it. And he gave it full marks. I plan to lurk in the "unusual produce" section of the supermarket and start my own whispering campaign to promote the poor eddoe.
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  1. Sounds great ... but I've never seen one in the supermarkets here - which one do you use (when you're not in the organic temple!)? I think I'll have to put in a special order - sounds good to me


  2. What about escarole and eschalotte? Escarole is wonderful cooked-- braised, in broths, sauteed...

  3. A wonnerful idea for a blog and I've always wondered what to do with eddoes as I walk by them in the store. :D If you don't mind, I'd like put a link on my blog to yours as we seem to use a lot of the same ingredients (except for a sizeable percentage of ours come from nature or our own gardens)

  4. I will look out for thoose and treat them as a baked potato. I can't wait to see Graham's face when I bring them home (if I can find them)!

  5. Looks delish. "Tastier than a potato" sounds highly promising to me, as I've never met a potato I didn't like! Can't wait to see what you do with eddoes next!

  6. Joanna
    This time I found them in Tescos supermarket in a section that can only be described as a holding place for the weird and wonderful.

  7. schmoofaloof9:10 PM

    They have taro croquettes in dim sum restaurants - they are sooo delicious. If you go on the BBC messageboard and do a post FAO of Sunflower, i'm pretty certain she'd have a recipe for you.

  8. Anonymous10:21 PM

    Hi Freddie & Charlotte,

    I decided it was time to get out my Seychelles cook book and sure enough Coco yams were there - hiding as a desert. You have to peel, wash and cut them (1.4kg) into pieces. Put them in a saucepan and cover halfway with coconut milk. Add 600g of sugar, pinch of salt and a vanilla pod. Cook on a low heat for 30 - 35mins. When cooked flavour with grated nutmeg and keep cool (the book says.) You can use this recipe for sweet potato as well - I've only ever tried it with banana(20mins to cook) and it's heaven. Having said that I've never cooked it myself my Mum has always made it!!!!!!!
    I thought Freddie deserved something sweet - and not so healthy! Good luck Lindy & Ella

  9. Lindy and true. Freddie always deserves something sweet

    Schmoofaloof - Thank you for that idea. Its funny how once you discover a vegetable, a whole new world opens..

  10. Thanks!!! I had never heard of these before..... Hmmmm Think I may have to go hunting for them in the supermarkets here.

  11. Why have I never seen this vegetable before? Time to do some investigating...

  12. I don't think I've heard of an Eddoe (or Arbi / Taro / Nampi / Coco Yam) before either (although I feel as though I've seen them somewhere).

    I'm going to keep my eyes peeled. Like a previous commenter, I'm a big fan of potatoes prepared in a myriad of way. If these are tastier than potatoes I want some!

  13. Wow, Freddie & Alexandra ~ You got me on this one! I've never heard of an eddoe but can't wait to find one soon because now I know just what to do with it! Here you are, inspiring all the grown-ups and the kids! Good work!! Your friend in vegetables, Alanna

  14. Steamed and mashed taro is poi, a Hawai'ian staple; one of my favorite ways to cook taro is to peel, slice, and fry in light oil. In Hawai'i, they sell them as chips (crisps) in small packets, as well. One word of caution, though: it is recommended that one wear gloves when peeling the raw corms as bare hands may be irritated by the raw juices.

  15. Mijail1:42 PM

    Hi, im from costa rica, we call them Ñampi over here, its actually one of my favorite vegetables, i love too make
    Mashed Eddoes
    You have to peel the edoes and boil them, (NOW THEY WILL BE SLIMY) and mash them, add some milk, butter and salt, like on mashed potatoes, its like the best thing on the world

  16. loco_moco6:05 PM

    In Hawai`i we call these small ones "dasheen" or "yama-imo" (Japanese for "mountain yam"). Big ones can run maybe 2Kg.

    These can have varying amounts of oxalic acid crystals, so it pays to change water once while boiling.

    Mashed, shaped, seasoned and fried as croquettes is also a delicious way to enjoy these.

    I made these croquettes for a work buddy from Nigeria when I was invited to their house, thinking it would be an exotic Hawai'ian treat. He asked me, "what does the root look like?" When I explained, he motioned to the shelf behind me and there was one sitting there! "We call them coco yam" he said. I found coco yam flour in the specialty market and now use it to make poi!

  17. Jason2:21 AM

    Good review. We call it eddoes or dasheen in Trinidad and Tobago. Its really healthy, very high in fibre...and strangely enough an ok source of vitamin C! (1 cup has 11% RDV...not bad!) We have it growing almost wild here, I have almost a quarter acre just growing without attention in the backyard. Great food!!

  18. I realize I'm way behind on this one and I'm on the other side of the pond but... if anyone is reading this from Canada and wants to know where to find eddoes, they can be found at Price Chopper, of all places. Price Chopper is a discount grocer that has a surpisingly large selection of 'exotic' foods. There is also a great recipe at this site: by Chris De La Rosa (not me).

  19. you can get them at morrisons got some today.. dave

  20. Rachel5:48 PM

    Can never resist a 'new' veg and spotted Edoes [sic] for sale outside Finchley Road tube station today.

    I'd probably have tried steaming first, but the baking sounds good, thank you!

  21. Great blog.
    Am about to try eddoes for the first time having found them in a chinese supermarket here in Montreal.
    Glad to read RL's comment - now I know why my hands are itching like crazy. Will wear glove nest time I peel them. I just hope that once cooked they don't make me itch internally !!! Hi Hi

  22. Another comment from Canada: If you're in an Ontario community that has a Freshco supermarket (, check to see if they stock it. They do in my branch.

    -Recently stumbled on your blog, and am enjoying it tremendously. I've always loved vegetables, and it's nice discovering new veges, and new recipes. Thanks!

    One site suggestion, which would really help people either looking for specific veges, or just browsing: Could you perhaps add an index to the veges, or perhaps a link to each of the alphabetical sections? I remembered "eddoes" had been blogged, and was able to do an advanced Google search to find it on the site, but someone just wanting to browse through any "E" veges would have to guess at the approximate date of its appearance in the chronological archives, and click forward and back from there.

  23. Anonymous12:44 PM

    Hi I just bought this vegetable. I saw them in my local supermarket and thought why not try them.

    I think I will use them in a mash!!

    I am from UK and I live in Yorkshire.

  24. I am from Trinidad. I can understand the slime comments as it can be slimy when boiled but ironically this is attractive for cooking some curries and soups. It is healthier than potatoes and does have a great taste.

  25. Anonymous8:44 PM

    mashed with Garlic, onion, chilli flakes, butter and a bit of cheese- goey comfort food!


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