The term Chinese potato may be used to refer to the root of the arrowroot plant. The tuber is small and rounded and resembles round marbles in shape. The fresh arrowroot tuber looks like a small onion but without the layered skin of the onions. The skin of tuber is thin and has to be rubbed hard before it can be removed. The skin of the tuber may stain the hands during the cleaning process. The tuber can be cultivated all through the year as it is a perennial plant.
History of Chinese Potato
Arrowroot was cultivated all over the world for well over 7000 years. The Caribbean Arrawak people used the tuber very commonly in their cooking process due to the high nutritional value of the tuber and its high carbohydrate content. In Asia and America, several different varieties of the tuber were grown for medicinal use as well as for culinary consumption.
Culinary Uses of the Chinese Potato
The Chinese potato can be cubed and added to soups and gravies. The tubers have a thin skin that is rubbed off and the entire tuber can be roasted or steamed or even deep fried to form thin chips. Traditionally, young small tubers are harvested in six months of planting to get the best flavor from the plant. The tuber is also cut into pieces and soaked in water. Arrowroot flour floats to the surface and is collected. Arrowroot flour can be used for a range of dietary uses like thickening soups and gravies, preparing custards and jellies, as an alternative to gluten-containing wheat flour, etc
Popular Chinese Potato Recipes
- Koorkka Olathiyathu or Chinese Potato Stir Fry is a very popular dish in South Kerala. This dish is prepared by scraping off the skin of the tuber. The tuber is cut into bite sized pieces and then simmered in water with salt, turmierin powder and pepper. An oil tempering of mustard seeds, chilies and curry leaves is done and the dish is served hot with rice.
- Chinese Potato Upkari is a Karnataka dish. The potatoes are cooked and peeled and slices. They are then stir fried with fresh grated coconut, chilly powder, and coriander and cumin powder. Salt and pepper are added to taste.
- Mezhukkupuratti is a Keralite dish where the sliced tuber is deep fried and garnished with chilly powder and roasted cumin.
Cuisines Using Chinese Potato
The Chinese Potato is commonly used in South Indian cooking and in Chinese stir-fry. The tuber is sliced finely before adding to the soups, stir-fry and sambars of Indian cooking.
Food Industry Uses of Chinese Potato
Chinese potato flour is commonly used in the cooking industry as a thickener. The flour can be simmered with water to create a colorless, tasteless and odorless jelly. This is commonly used in the food industry to make jellies, cakes, hot sauces etc.
Non- Food Uses Chinese Potato
In the early days of carbonless paper, arrowroot was colored and used to create carbon copies of printed papers.
- The Jicama variety of potato is also referred to as the Chinese potato but it is completley different in taste and texture as compared to the arrowroot tuber. Jicama potatoes are crunchier in texture with a thin skin and are commonly used in Spanish and Mexican cooking. This variety of potato does not discolor on peeling. As a result, it is sliced thin and served as a crudite with a range of dips.
- Chinese potato may also refer to the Hausa potato. This variety of potatoes is commonly grown in Mali and other parts of Africa.