Today we prepare a taro recipe from the cookbook attributed to Marcus Gavius Apicius. It is a simple and delicious tuber dish served with an aromatic sauce based on rue, cumin, and black pepper.
Taro, known by ancient Romans and Greeks as colocasia or Egyptian aro, was widely spread in all Mediterranean regions and cultivated also in the Italic peninsula, as Columella reported.
We suggest pairing this plate with fish or meat, for example, sea bass or beef stew, or, if you prefer, with eggs.
extra virgin olive oil
Boil the taro. The cooking time depends on the size of the tubers you are using. Our taro needed half an hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Grind in the mortar black pepper and cumin, then cut finely a few rue leaves.
Pour in a pan extra virgin olive oil and a little garum, then add a bit of honey and let it caramelize a little. Now, add the spices and the starch diluted in water until the sauce thickens. Add the rue and cook for a few seconds.
Peel the taro and plate, coating with the sauce.
Rue and garum
Rue is one of the herbs more used in ancient Roman cooking. We suggest using a little quantity because its intense flavor can easily overpower the dishes. It’s not easy to buy in Italy, and we cultivate it in our aromatic-herbs garden. If you don’t find rue, substitute it with other fresh herbs, for example, mint, cilantro, or parsley.
Garum was an ancient Mediterranean fish sauce, prepared with fish fermented in salt, with or without spices. You can substitute it with a South-East Asian fish sauce, made in the same way as some kind of garum, or with salt.
In colocasio: piper, cuminum, rutam, mel, liquamen, olei modicum. Cum ferbuerit, amulo obligas.
Sauce for colocasia: pepper, cumin, rue, honey, garum, a little oil. When it boils, thicken with starch.