Hybrid Cooked Mushroom and Herb-Crusted Taro Medley

Often when I cook the ingredients will dictate the meal. After christmas, we had a surplus of taro, and I though it prudent to make use of this superfood, and crack out a dish that was by no means... conventional to the South Pacific. Traditionally, taro is boiled for a long time to neutralize the toxin calcium oxalate: read: make it edible. It's then mixed with coconut cream and served. I wanted to try something a little different, so with a couple of mushrooms, a block of taro, and some herbs, I got to work. I've used traditional and new methods in this recipe, and was pleased with the results.

Tools

- Sharp Knife

- Oven tray

- Wooden Skewer or fork

- Frying Pan

- Brush

- Gloves

- Pot

- Saucepan

- Seive

Ingredients

- 1 Taro, peeled- perhaps wear a clean pair of gloves when handling - it can irritate people's hands.

- 1 Can of Coconut Cream

- Button mushrooms (as many as you need)

- Mirin

- Rice Wine Vinegar

- Dried Oregano

- Fresh Rosemary

- Garlic Powder

- Fresh Oregano

- Salt

- Pepper

- Fresh turmeric finely sliced (or powdered if you don't have access to the turmeric.)

- Rice bran oil

Method

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Cut your taro into chunks. A couple of inches cubed will do the trick. Toss the taro into a pot, cover with water and boil for around 15 minutes- start the 15 minutes when you've reached boiling! The way to see if it's done is to poke a fork in it - if you can break it apart with a fork, it's probably there. If in doubt, put it in for a bit longer. I've had the scratchy throat feeling from uncooked taro. It is not at all pleasant.

Its time to make the crust while the taro is cooking. Finely mince a quarter cup of fresh rosemary leaves. From there, move to a plate and mix with two teaspoons of dried oregano, two teaspoons of garlic powder, one teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

Charge up your frying pan on a medium to low heat and oil lightly. Put your button mushrooms, skin-down on the pan. In a cup, mix together 1/4 cup of mirin, two tablespoons of Rice Wine Vinegar and a couple of pinches of salt. Mix until salt is dissolved. Pour this mixture around the stalks of the button mushrooms. The mushroom should hold and heat the liquid for the duration of the cook. It's sort of simultaneous poaching and frying them!

At this point you've got the taro nearing cooked, the mushrooms are on.

Drain the taro. Wait for them to cool enough that you can pick them up. While doing this, grease an oven tray.

Open the can of coconut cream and mix it thoroughly.

Submerge the taro pieces in the coconut cream with a fork or a wooden skewer.

Roll the coconut cream covered taro in the herb rub and put on a greased oven tray. When complete, bang it in the oven

The taro morsels are in the oven, make the coconut cream sauce.

Scoop the remainder of the coconut cream in a saucepan with the fresh turmeric and a couple of tablespoons of mirin. Heat on a low heat, stirring so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Once it's turned a strong yellow, salt to taste, and it's ready. Strain it into a vessel of your choice for plating.

The taro is ready in the oven when the edges start to crisp up and go dark. Remove them from the oven.

The mushrooms can be removed to a chopping board and cut in half. The juice will probably go everywhere, but you may notice the color has changed - the mushroom juice has mingled with the sauce.

Plate up with a strip of your turmeric sauce, taro and mushrooms on top. A few oregano leaves on top. I threw some onion flakes in there too, just for good measure.

Enjoy!

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