Taro and Ube are two starchy root vegetables that are widely used in many cuisines around the world. While they may seem similar at first glance, they have distinct differences in terms of their appearance, taste, and culinary uses. In the table below, I have listed the similarities and differences between the two in a summarized form.
Taro vs Ube – The Main Differences and Similarities
|Type of Vegetable||Starchy root vegetable||Starchy root vegetable|
|Origin||Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands||Philippines & India|
|Other Names||Dasheen, Colocasia Esculenta.||Purple yam, Dioscorea Alata.|
|Taste/Flavor||Mild, nutty, slightly sweet like a potato.||Very sweet like Vanilla|
|Appearance (Skin)||Rough, brown skin||Smooth, dark purple skin|
|Appearance (Flesh)||White or slight purple flesh||Vibrant purple flesh|
|Culinary Uses||Stews, Soups, and Desserts||Primarily in Desserts and coloring food.|
|Calories||187 calories (in 100 grams of cooked Taro)||140 calories (in 100 grams of cooked Ube)|
|Fiber (per cup)||6.7 grams||5.5 grams|
|Nutrition||Good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese and copper.||Rich in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and phytonutrients including anthocyanin. A great antioxidant.|
|Health Benefits||Regulates bowel movement, helps heart health, blood sugar levels, body weight and gut health. source||Helps mamnaging B.P., blood sugar, promotes healthy bacterial growth in gut, protects from inflammation, cancer and other chronic diseases. source|
Now that you know the main differences between the two vegetables, which of the two you will choose if it is a taro vs ube choice Let’s help you make your choice easier by discussing the two vegetables in some detail.
Origins of Taro and Ube
Taro, also known as dasheen, is a root vegetable that is native to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. It has a rough, brown skin and a white or purple flesh that is starchy and slightly sweet. In Hawaii, taro is a staple ingredient in poi, a traditional dish made by mashing cooked taro roots and fermenting the resulting paste.
Ube, on the other hand, is a purple yam that is native to the Philippines. It has a smooth, dark purple skin and a vibrant purple flesh that is sweet and nutty. Ube is commonly used in Filipino desserts such as ube halaya, a creamy pudding made by cooking grated ube with milk and sugar until thick and smooth. Ube is also used to make ice cream, cakes, and other sweet treats.
Appearance & Texture
Both taro and ube are roots and, therefore, it is only natural that they have few things in common and, at the same time, differ from each other in some respects. Taro has brown-colored skin that is more like that of ginger and is smaller in size than ube. Ube, on the other hand has a skin that resembles a bark of a tree and is purple in color.
When you cut open taro, it has white or creamish flesh which is marked by purple dots and fibers. If this flesh remains open for some time, the color of its flesh deepens a bit – as is the case with so many other vegetables like aubergine, elephant yam, etc. And though its texture is starchy, it is a lot stickier than sweet potato.
Coming to ube, when it is cut, it reveals deeply purple flesh inside. This purple color accounts for the presence of flavonoid anthocyanin in it.
When it comes to taste, taro and ube have distinct flavors that set them apart. Taro has a nutty, slightly sweet taste that is often compared to that of a potato or a chestnut. Ube too has nutty but vanilla flavor. However, it is much sweeter than taro.
Taro Versus Ube: A Truly Exciting Culinary Match
This is where the comparison between taro and ube becomes more striking. The reason is that taro has greater utility in making wide range of recipes. The sweetness of ube restricts its use to preparing desserts like halaya, pastries, ice creams and candies; baked items like cakes, cookies, bread pies, etc; an extract that can be used in a number of recipes; jams; ube condensed milk and chocolates; different kinds of tea; smoothies, etc.
In other words, ube doesn’t help much in making savory dishes. It would certainly require exceptionally innovative culinary skills from a chef to come up with a savory recipe that contains ube. However, we can certainly use ube for preparing soups, chips and fritters. Its sweetness in chips and fritters lends it distinctive taste.
As for taro, its nutty taste has a very faint touch of sweetness. In fact, its taste depends on its variety. We have two different kinds of taros. There is all the possibility that taros that are grown in different countries may also have slight variation in their taste. However, the texture or flesh of taro remains smooth and creamy. It is not powdery like that of boiled potato.
The greatest advantage of taro root is that you can prepare not only savory dishes but also desserts and snacks. You can boil it, fry it, roast it…make paste or powder out of it. You can do anything with it depending upon what you want to make out of it.
If you boil it, you can cook taro root curries, stews, soups, puffs, dumplings and so on. Steaming and baking it also produces the same result as does boiling. The choice is yours for the making. But anything that is baked on cinders has a typical burnt flavor in it, which is quite unlike anything that you may attempt in electric or microwave oven.
If you want fried recipes, you can make chips, fritters, and recipes like that.
In powdered form, it can be used in making different kinds of tea or shakes and smoothies or soups and stews or a considerable range of baked dishes. It is used even for making ice cream!
Interestingly, some people also use the stem of the taro plant in cooking. But, largely, it is the root part that is mostly used. It is an impressive range of savory dishes that endears it to foodies. These savory recipes include both veg and non-veg dishes. People use infinite varieties of vegetables and meats in making taro recipes.
Its vibrant purple color also makes it a popular ingredient for aesthetic purposes, such as coloring bread, cakes, and other baked goods.
Can we Substitute Taro for Ube or Ube for Taro?
No, they are not interchangeable due to different taste, color, and texture. However, there is one exception. Ube is actually a good substitute for taro in milk tea. It gives a better color to the tea and taste remains almost the same.
I can’t think of any other recipe where they can be substituted for each other so well.
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In conclusion, taro and ube are both delicious and versatile root vegetables that have distinct differences in terms of their appearance, taste, and culinary uses. Whether you prefer the mild, slightly sweet flavor of taro or the nutty, earthy sweetness of ube, both of these starchy vegetables are worth exploring in your cooking and baking.