Malanga is a tuber related to the taro root, also known as yautia, tannia, tanier, and old coco yam.
This dense root vegetable is widely grown in the tropics including Cuba, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. It is grown on a smaller scale in South Florida to meet the demand of Latin American consumers in the United States.
Types & Varieties
Malanga plants, which can grow up to 5 feet tall, are characterized by large, elephant ear-shaped leaves. The edible root or cormel forms at the base of the plant.
The root vegetable varies in size, ranging between half a pound to 2 pounds. Covered in a rough, brown, hairy skin, the tuber resembles a sweet potato. Its flesh can vary from pink to yellow to beige. The most common U.S. variety is Malanga Blanca; others include Lila, Coco, Eddo (Tarro), and Amarilla.
Malanga is typically peeled before being cooked. Although its consistency is fairly thick and creamy like a potato, malanga has a bolder, earthier flavor with hints of nut, depending on the variety.
Much like potatoes, the tuber can be baked, boiled, grilled, stewed, fried, sliced, or mashed. It can also be milled into flour or ground into paste and used as a thickener in soups, stews, and other dishes.