Today I’m going to show you how to make toran-guk, a delicious soup made from taro. This dish is a combination of a savory and nutty broth, tender beef brisket, and soft, nutty, starchy taro.
Many cultures around the world cook with taro, usually the root (which is technically a thick underground stem called the corm). It tastes similar to a potato, but it’s sweeter and nuttier and kind of creamy, like mashed potatoes. It’s easy to digest and is has good source of vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Check out the taro chip recipe that I filmed with Mere in New Zealand as part of my Gapshida show. Mere showed me how to make delicious taro chips and a creamy sauce made with tofu! I found out taro is eaten in many cultures at that time even though the size of taro that Mere used was huge!
Korean taro (toran) is very small in its size. Peak season for taro in Korea is fall, so it’s customary to eat toran-guk during the Korean harvest festival of Chuseok. But I can find taro any time of the year in New York City, so I often make the soup.
Taro is called toran in Korean. “To” means earth and “ran” means eggs, so toran translates to something like “eggs under the earth.” I think it’s a beautiful name, whoever created it.
Raw taro is toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate, so it’s not safe to eat raw and it will irritate your skin. If you peel raw taro with your bare hands, they’ll get itchy and achy after a while. But if you cook taro, the toxin is destroyed by cooking. This is my line for you: “Boil taro and peel taro, and cook taro!” : )
Toran-guk table setting. Front: white fluffy rice, toran-guk. In the back from the left: yeolmu-kimchi (young radish kimchi), kkakdugi (cubed radish kimchi), and sukju-namul (mung bean sprouts side dish).
Ingredients (for 4 servings)
- 1 pound peeled taro
- ½ pound beef brisket, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cloves garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup perilla seeds powder
- 2 green onions, chopped
How to peel taro
To get 1 pound of peeled taro, you’ll have to prepare about more than 1 pounds taro.
- Bring 4 to 5 cups of water to a boil. Add the taro and cover. Cook for 10 minutes over medium high heat.
- Strain the taro and soak in cold water.
- Peel with a potato peeler or a kitchen knife. Rinse the peeled taro and strain.
- Cut each taro into bite size pieces and put them into a bowl. Set aside.
- Boil 6 cups of water in a pot over medium high heat. When the water starts boiling, add the beef and garlic. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Open and add the peeled taro, fish sauce, and salt. Cover and keep cooking for another 20 minutes.
- Place a fine strainer into the soup. Put the perilla seed powder into the strainer and stir it around with a spoon so it gets absorbed into the broth. The soup will turn a little milky and you’ll have leftover sludge in the strainer. Press the last of the perilla seed powder through the strainer with a spoon and remove.
- Add the green onion and cover. Cook another minute.
- Serve hot with rice, kimchi, and a few more side dishes. You can refrigerate this soup for up to 4 days.