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Tubers & Corms


Technically, tubers and corms are swollen underground plant stems, but it's easier to think of them as the "family of potato-like vegetables."  They're used worldwide as a source of carbohydrates, often taking a back seat to more flavorful and colorful ingredients.

Pronunciation:  TOO-ber OR TYOO-ber and KORM




arracacha = apio    Shopping hints:  These come from South America. According to the FAO, they taste like a cross between celery, cabbage, and chestnuts.   Substitutes: potatoes


arrowroot = arrow root = Chinese potato (this name also is used for jicama) = goo = seegoo = arrowhead = Chinese arrowhead = tse goo = ci gu = tsu goo    Notes:   The name arrowroot is more commonly associated with a thickener that's made from the plant.  A fresh arrowroot tuber looks like a small onion, only without the layers.  It should be peeled, and then it can be boiled or stir-fried.  Look for it in Chinese markets during the winter. Substitutes: water chestnuts OR jicama  


bitter casava

Brazilian arrowroot


cassava = casava = manioc = mandioca = tapioca root = yucca = yucca root = yuca root = Brazilian arrowroot   Pronunciation:   kuh-SAH-vuh   Notes:   People in Hispanic countries use cassavas much like Americans use potatoes.  There's both a sweet and a bitter variety of cassava. The sweet one can be eaten raw, but the bitter one requires cooking to destroy the harmful prussic acid it contains.  It's often best to buy frozen cassava, since the fresh kind is hard to peel.  Look for it in Hispanic markets.  It doesn't store well, so use it within a day or two of purchase.   Substitutes: malanga OR dasheen OR potato (not as gluey)   

Chinese artichoke = crosne = Japanese artichoke = chorogi   Notes:  These look a bit like caterpillars, and they taste like Jerusalem artichokes.  They're popular in France but hard to find in the U.S.  Your best bet would be an Asian market.    Substitutes:  Jerusalem artichoke OR salsify

Chinese potato  See arrow root or jicama.

Chinese water chestnut





elephant's ear



Japanese artichoke

Japanese potato

Jerusalem artichoke = sunchoke = sunroot = topinambour = girasole    Equivalents:  One cup sliced = 150 grams  Notes:  These look like small, knobby potatoes, but they have a crisp texture and an interesting earthy flavor. You can eat them raw, stir-fry them, or bake them like potatoes. It's best not to peel them, but you'll want to scrub off the dirt.  If you slice them, dunk them immediately in acidulated water to keep them from discoloring.  Substitutes: artichoke hearts (Artichoke hearts are less crunchy, but their flavor is somewhat similar flavor to Jerusalem artichokes.) OR potatoes (This is a good substitute if the recipe calls for the Jerusalem artichokes to be baked.) OR water chestnuts ( These have a similar texture to Jerusalem artichokes.) OR jicama ( This is less expensive than Jerusalem artichokes. The texture is similar, but the flavor is completely different.)  


jicama = jícama = yam bean = Mexican yam bean = ahipa = saa got = Chinese potato (this name also is used for arrow root) = Mexican potato = Chinese turnip (this name also is used for lo bok) Pronunciation:  HIH-kuh-ma  Equivalents:  One jicama, cubed = 2 cups  Notes:   This tan-skinned tuber has a mild, nondescript flavor, but a nice crunchy texture. It's a good, cheap substitute for water chestnuts in stir-fries.  Since it doesn't discolor, it's also a great vegetable to serve raw on a crudité platter. Peel it before using.   Substitutes: water chestnuts (These are more expensive and sweeter than jicama. Like jicama, water chestnuts retain their crispiness when stir-fried.) OR Jerusalem artichoke ( Like jicama, these can be eaten raw and they stay crunchy even when stir-fried. They're more expensive than jicama, but they have an earthier, nuttier flavor.) OR tart apples OR turnips OR daikon radish   

lilly root

ling gaw

malanga = tanier = tannier = tannia = yautia   Notes:   Like taro and cassava, malanga is used in tropical countries in much the same way that potatoes are used in more temperate climates.   Substitutes: dasheen OR sweet potato OR potato OR yam OR plantain   



Mexican potato

Mexican yam bean

old cocoyam



saa got





sweet casava

sweet potatoes




tapioca root

taro = taro root = dasheen = coco = cocoyam = eddo = Japanese potato = baddo = elephant's ear = old cocoyam = sato-imo   Pronunciation:  TAHR-oh Notes:  If you've sampled poi at a Hawaiian luau, then you're already familiar with taro.  Many people don't think much of poi, but taro can be served far more advantageously.  It has an interesting, nutty flavor, and it's quite good in stews or soups, or deep-fat fried or roasted.  In its raw state, it can be toxic and harsh on the skin, so wear gloves or oil your hands when handling it, and always cook it before serving it.   Substitutes:   malanga OR parsnip OR sweet potato OR yam OR new potatoes  


water chestnut = Chinese water chestnut   Notes:  Water chestnuts are delightfully sweet and crisp--if you buy them fresh.   Though canned water chestnuts are more easily available, they're not nearly as good.  Look for fresh water chestnuts in Asian markets.  You need to peel off their brown jackets and simmer them for five minutes before stir-frying.  If you must use canned water chestnuts, blanch them first in boiling water for thirty seconds.   Substitutes: jicama (less expensive, but less flavorful) OR Jerusalem artichokes OR lotus roots (especially if you don't have access to fresh water chestnuts; canned lotus roots are more crisp and flavorful than canned water chestnuts)  

water lily root

yam bean



yuca root  Pronunciation:  YOO-kuh   See cassava.

yucca root  Pronunciation:  YOO-kuh   See cassava.



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