Archive / Taro Root

Developing the Dumpling Recipes – It’s what’s inside that counts

asulia blog developing the dumpling recipes it's what's inside that counts

As you know, Asulia is launching a new handcrafted line of fusion dumplings in chickpea, kale, and taro root. Each fusion dumpling is made locally in Boston in small batches and is certified vegan. People keep asking me how I came up with the dumpling recipes.

These recipes are a modern fusion blend of flavors from the east and west, inspired by my mother’s cooking and my travels near and far. I wanted them to be filled with healthy ingredients that would give you substance without weighing you down. I also wanted the dumplings to appeal to everyone from kids to adults, and keep them locally made in Boston. The dumplings are handcrafted to retain the texture of each filling. I tweaked and tested the recipes two dozen times until I was satisfied!

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from mom and trained chefs is to always consider the elements of taste, texture, appearance, and layering flavors. Food needs to be balanced. When you dine out, typically there’s a mix of soft and crisp textures in your dish. It makes your taste buds happy and excited!

The main ingredients in each dumpling — chickpea, kale, and taro root — have a low glycemic index. They won’t spike your glucose levels. Instead, the nutrients are absorbed more slowly and steadily. This means you won’t be in a food coma after you eat them.

Chickpea Curry Dumplings: This flavor is a variation on indian and thai curries that I grew up enjoying. It’s probably the most traditionally influenced dumpling in our line. Chickpeas are high in fiber and protein. We never use canned chickpeas in our dumplings! We soak dried chickpeas in water for 24 hours, and then carefully chop them to the right consistency to retain texture. Then we steam them and blend them with coconut milk, curry, spices, carrots and more. Cauliflower was added to round out the flavor of the curry and to add texture.

Kale Dumplings: I love kale, it’s one of my favorite foods! It’s so versatile. You can bake it, stir fry it, blend in a smoothie, eat it raw and more. This dumpling is inspired by my mom’s yummy vegetable stir fries and reminds me of the taste of her dishes. In traditional Cantonese cooking, fresh ginger and garlic are used a lot. We mix kale with freshly chopped red and white cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, spices, onions, ginger and garlic. We use shiitake mushrooms to add an element of umami to the filling.

Taro Root Dumplings: I grew up eating taro root in China, where I lived until I was five years old, but it’s less common here in the States. I love it because it has an interesting and unique taste. It has a creamy, custard-like texture and slightly nutty flavor. I like it in every form, from baked to steamed. This recipe is inspired by a dish my mom used to make for me growing up. She would steam taro and marinated meat together in a rice cooker or braise it slowly over the stove with spices. Taro root is great because it has 3 times more fiber than a potato and is a great source of potassium. We steam the taro in small batches until its fully cooked and blend in fresh scallions, toasted sesame, spices, and more to create a savory dumpling filling.

 

 

 

dumpling debut

Wednesday, 9/18 was the first official public Asulia dumpling tasting held at MIT’s Innovation Series “From Farm to Tablet”.  That morning, I dropped my mom off at the airport at 5am. I’ve done this many times before, but that day felt different. I was extra concerned about her safety as she leaves for a month overseas. I got choked up because, not only does she mean the world to me, but also because I want her to be able to continue to see that her decision to become my mom was not for nothing.

Then, I was nonstop all day. Kinda of surprising huh? A dumpling tasting that lasted an hour and a half took a full day of prep! I had to pick up fresh veggies, coordinate with my graphic designer, pick up the Indiegogo info cards from the printer, buy napkins and a table cloth, pack, eat something, and, oh, shower! There wasn’t an oven on site, so I found a friend that lived close by and borrowed hers. I couldn’t have pulled it off without my crew of 3 amazing ladies.

It was awesome to sample to the Boston and MIT community. Over 100 people stopped by Asulia’s table to try our our chickpea dumplingskale dumplings, and taro root dumplings. People loved the taste of the fusion dumplings and wanted to hear more about Asulia and my story. They couldn’t believe the average calorie count is only 44 per dumpling. Many can back a 2nd and 3rd time for more dumplings! I loved seeing people’s faces as they bit into the dumplings and hearing their comments. Instant feedback! I can’t wait to do more demos and share my dumplings with more people.
Special thanks to Suzanne Brendle, Sarah Howes, and Taylor Rose for assisting!
Sue Liang, Asulia Foods

Sue Liang of Asulia Foods setting up for the MIT Dumpling Tasting

Taro Root, a better starch

unpeeled taro root, peeled taro root, taro root smoothie, an earlier Asulia packaging idea

Above, counter clockwise: unpeeled taro root, peeled taro root, taro root smoothie, an earlier Asulia packaging idea

Above, counter clockwise: unpeeled taro root, peeled taro, taro root smoothie, an earlier packaging pic of an idea I had for a taro & scallion boat before we knew a wheat dumpling wrapper was possible.

Asulia uses taro root as the main ingredient in our Taro Root dumpling.

Taro root is a staple root vegetable in Southeast Asia, Africa, India, China, the Caribbean and the Polynesian islands. It’s often used like a potato. I grew up eating taro root in China, where I lived until I was five years old, in braised dishes and steamed with savory ingredients. Then, my mother and I moved to New York and then to Montana where I spent the vast majority of my childhood. Needless to say, it was hard to find taro, let alone any exotic vegetables back then.

When my mom and I would travel, we would make sure to eat taro. Taro root can be roasted, boiled, fried or baked. The leaves can be eaten just like spinach! Unlike potatoes, its texture is custardy and it has purple tinge once it’s cooked. It has a nutty flavor from natural sugars that come out during the cooking process. What sets this root vegetable apart from it’s starchy cousins is it’s nutrients. Taro contains three times as much fiber as a potato, is a great source of potassium and is a low glycemic index food. It’s also is very easy to digest.

The glycemic index measures how your blood sugar levels rise after you eat carbohydrates. An index number from 1-100, with 100 as the reference score stands for pure glucose, a.k.a. sugar. Foods are rated high (greater than 70), moderate (56-69), or low (less than 55). On the GI scale, taro is rated low with a score of 18. A low GI means that it’s absorbed into your body slower, which allows you to feel fuller longer since it takes longer to metabolize.

It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t eat taro raw, it needs to be cooked. To prepare taro root for cooking, peel it with a vegetable peeler under running water. This will help you to avoid any sensitivity to the juices, which can cause a mild stinging sensation. You can also a knife to remove the skin. Shield your hands with a towel or gloves.  Keep your taro covered with water in a bowl or pan until you’re ready to use it. It pairs nicely with with milk or other calcium-rich foods. I love taro with coconut milk. Here’s a recipe for a taro root smoothie.

Sue’s Taro Root Smoothie

1 1/2 cup ice
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup taro powder or ½ cup steamed fully cooked taro
1/4 cup of simple raw cane syrup or ¼ cup of sweetened condensed milk

Blend together and get your taro on!

 

Dumpling Preparations

Dumpling test run - Taro Root Dumpling Filling

Dumpling test run – Taro Root Dumpling Filling

I ran a large-scale test batch run of dumplings earlier in this week. That’s the filling for the Taro Root Dumplings pictured above.

I’ve never cooked a few hundred pounds of dumpling filling before! I found that I needed to adjust my recipes a bit. The dumpling recipes are final now, so next up is working on new nutrition labels.

 

I’m also planning a crowdfunding campaign. I’m self-funded so far, but I will need to raise money.

I had a meeting with Jill Rosenwald about the possibility of co-creating a special line pottery for Asulia’s kickstarter supporters, that you can serve dumplings on. So fun! I love Jill’s work.