Malanga…Que Bueno!

Malangaby Francisco G. Gómez

When speaking about food that is prepared in Caribbean culinary fashion, Malanga always comes to mind. As a child it wasn’t always my favorite, it sort of grew on me initially through forced feeding by my mother. It was accompanied by so many other types of veggies, fish and meat that it became palatable in my favorite way, Malanga and Cod fish.

To make it really delicious, mom would throw in some other viandas (tubers/taros) like ñame (nans), yuca (cassava) and yautía (aroid). She would also add guineos (unripe bananas), platanos (plantains) and chiote (vegetable pear), mix in some virgin olive and or sesame oil and voíla, what an exquisite dish!

Other ways of transforming Malanga are grinding it into a flour, much like wheat flour. You can bread your veggies, meat and poultry with it. You can also make a wonderful soup if you add veggies, potatoes and some of the other viandas I have mentioned. Check out the recipes below!

Malanga contains a number of essential nutrients.

Macronutrients
A third of a cup serving of cooked Malanga contains 70 calories and 1 gram of protein. It also contains lots of fiber, 3 grams, which is very beneficial in the prevention of diabetes, heart disease and digestive tract problems.

Minerals
The malanga is mineral-rich in potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, small amounts of calcium and iron. Potassium limits the risk of high blood pressure and it helps create energy from the foods you eat. Magnesium is extremely important for an optimum working immune system. The iron and calcium assist the transport of oxygen and the functions of cell growth.

Vitamins
Vitamin C is important in the process of removing free radicals that could damage your cells. Unfortunately, Malanga has small amounts of this vitamin. However, it does contain folate and riboflavin and B vitamins that are essential for turning the foods you eat into energy and keeping your hair and skin healthy.

Seasonal Availability
In the islands of the Caribbean, Malanga is available year round, hence the fast paced transport of modern commerce facilitates its availability on a regular basis here in the U.S.A. as well.

Some things you may want to Consider about Malanga!
The fiber content of Malanga is very high so it is low on the glycemic index. This is good because it won’t raise your blood sugar rapidly. And when speaking about a food that is super hypoallergenic, Malanga rates as one of the highest. It is easy to digest and people that are very sensitive to foods will find Malanga very friendly to their bodies. Be aware that Malanga should be cooked before consumption. If you love a nutty taste, then you will find this tuber very satisfying. Malanga grows in various sizes and colors. It has a very coarse skin that can vary from yellow to reddish brown.

Please be aware as well that Malanga is high in calories, one half cup contains about 135 calories. This could be fortunate for you if you’re one of those people who are looking to put on weight versus losing it!

Where to get Malanga
If you live near a Spanish community you can find Malanga in the local bodega. These stores are usually found on street corners right in the heart of the neighborhood. Many super markets in the vicinity of Spanish communities carry it as well; places like Pathmark, Shopright or big companies that sell food would stock it.

How to cook Malanga
First peel off the coarse skin of the Malanga. With a large knife quarter it to your liking. Take a big pot of water and add about a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt if you like; boil it and then toss the Malanga in for about 15 minutes. I usually monitor my pieces for the consistency that I like, not too hard and not too soft.
Remember there are many ways to cook your Malanga, refer to the first paragraph of this piece, and also to the links below.

Links and Resources

Taste of Cuba

Cuban Cold Taro Root Soup recipe – Sopa Fria de Malanga

Cuban Malanga Fritters

Cuban Cream of Malanga

Ginger Malanga Kale Soup

Malanga con Mojo

Karma Free Cooking

Malanga Chips


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