Taro here and taro there
The English term ‘taro’ is borrowed from the Māori language, adapted by English traders visiting plantations in New Zealand in the 1700s. Starchy and nutritious, taro is a staple ingredient in various regions around the world.
It's a recurring element in many staple Cantonese dishes, such as the taro cakes we made before.
Handling taro safely
You can wear food-safe gloves to protect your hands from the irritating calcium oxalate found in raw taro. My dad's never used gloves, though, so it's entirely up to you!
Calcium oxalate is what makes raw taro toxic and unsafe to consume, and rinsing the cut taro gets us a head start on washing some of it away. Cooking takes care of the rest, leaving us with safe and delicious taro.
Buying the best spare ribs
If your grocery store doesn't have pre-cut pork spare ribs, you can get St. Louis style ribs and ask the butcher to cut across the bones. It's very difficult to cut the bones at home.
The ribs closer to the tail of the pig tend to be less fatty, which is my dad's preference.
Rinsing and soaking meat
The steps of washing and soaking the spare ribs in water help drain out the red liquid, lightening the color of the final cooked dish and reducing the taste of blood. The red liquid itself, however, is actually not blood, but myoglobin, the iron-rich protein that stores extra oxygen in muscles that are used often. We talk more about myoglobin in this recipe.
It's not necessary to do either of these steps, but you definitely can, especially if you want to achieve that pale spare ribs you see in dim sum.
Just be aware that you may be rinsing away some nutrients, such as iron, and be careful to wipe down your kitchen area in case of any splashes that could spread bacteria.