Choosing Rice Flour
At Asian grocery markets, there are typically two main types of rice flour: regular rice flour, and glutinous rice flour (also known as sticky rice flour).
We want regular rice flour. There are other taro cake recipes out there that use glutinous rice flour, but my dad prefers the firmer texture that regular rice flour yields.
Sticky rice flour is commonly used for many other Asian desserts and recipes, like boba, mochi, and etc.
You can buy the exact rice flour my dad uses on Amazon.
If you've never seen taro, it comes in various shapes and sizes. Similar to the potato, taro is a root vegetable primarily grown in Nigeria and China.
At Asian supermarkets, you'll probably encounter a small variety (baseball-sized) and a big variety (similar to the size of a large bottle of soda). For this recipe, we want the big kind.
To select the freshest of the bunch, choose a taro that doesn't look too dry and has few or zero cracks across its skin.
Finding Asian Ingredients
Some of these ingredients are hard to find in a typical grocery store.
If you don't live near an Asian market, most or all of what my dad uses in this recipe can be found on Amazon:
I've also included some other Chinese kitchen essentials, used in many of my dad's other recipes.
These links are affiliate links, which means that if you use our links to purchase these ingredients, Amazon pays my family a small amount for the sale - at no extra cost to you. If you use these links, we really appreciate the support!
Other Supplies + Tools
You'll need a steamer rack, an essential Chinese home-cooking tool.
You'll need a food scale. Since taro cake is one of our more precise recipes, it's important to be able to weigh out exactly what we're using.
You'll need a good wok, which provides a ton of versatility for the classic Chinese cooking methods: steaming, stir frying, deep frying, and etc.
As a precaution, you'll need food-safe gloves to handle taro (more on this later.)
Safety: Use a Towel
To increase the stability of your cutting board, place a hand towel underneath it. Especially because taro is so tough and hard to cut, we want to reduce the risk of injury by preventing our cutting board from moving around.
I can count on more than two hands (too soon?) the number of times my dad came home from the restaurant after a long day of work with bandaids on his hands.
Safety: Handling Taro
Raw taro contains calcium oxalate underneath its skin, which can be toxic due to the mineral’s microscopically sharp needles, and which can cause skin irritation and a burning sensation if eaten raw.
Maybe my dad is just a G, but in all the years my dad has made taro cake, he’s never used gloves. He does wash the taro before cutting it further, which helps wash away some of the calcium oxalate.
To be super safe, definitely do not eat raw taro, and use food-safe gloves when peeling and cutting it.
Don't worry - taro is not toxic after it undergoes some form of cooking.