I’m back, in my series that asks: But seriously…

What is it?

If it looks like a duck:
This item looks like ice cream. Purple ice cream. It has to be ice cream, or frozen dairy treat, or soft serve of some kind. (It better be ice cream, because that’s what I was craving. This post is completely based on the fact that I wanted ice cream. Ice Cream.) The color is close to the color of my living room two apartments ago – sorta purplish. I’m guessing some kind of berry? (Sigh. You know it won’t be.) It looks like it’s got half of something that looks like a lavender-fleshed coconut on the front (bottom left), and chunks of purple flesh in the picture, too. Mmm!

And it costs as much as a duck:
This item cost 40,000 VND/ or about $2 USD.

And it feels like a duck:
The item is pretty soft, just like you would expect ice cream to be. I have a feeling there aren’t going to be a lot of surprises here. It sure is pretty, though.

And it smells like a duck:
The item smells like ice cream – which is to say, it doesn’t have much scent at all.

And it tastes like a duck:
The item tastes like… grainy butter? Really? No, that’s not it… it’s weirdly rich, and a little sweet, but more rich than sweet if that makes sense. It’s slightly grainy, which I’m not sure should be marked down to the purple flavor (whatever it is), or maybe ice crystals (it’s not a super-high quality ice cream… but thank god it IS ice cream). It’s like if you took a really good french vanilla and added some kind of vague, savory creaminess and a strange grittiness to it. I’m a little disappointed there aren’t any purple chunks, I was looking forward to those. It’s really good. To bad I have to eat it all before I leave the hotel Tuesday! It’s almost like a whipped ice cream in texture – it’s very light (again, not super high-quality).


Then it must be: Kem Khoai Môn, or Taro Ice Cream!
(And oh, ha ha, there it is, right on the front of the package! Not being familiar with what taro is, I just glazed over it, assuming it was more Vietnamese. I was wrong! My only rule so far for this series is, No Descriptive English On the Packaging! So I guess I broke that… but I guess ignorance of English words is just as valid, if a little sad.)

Taro is like a sweet potato. It’s usually vaguely sweet and eaten by the majority of the world’s population in some fashion or another. It’s absurdly versatile, even though the outside skin is a skin irritant (no, really). In Vietnam it is mainly used in desserts, although it can take on and enhance the flavor profile of many things that it is cooked with – like sweet purple tofu? Weird.

However, this was a fantastic dessert and it makes the second dessert in a row that I thought was fruit, but turned out to be a sweet vegetable. Pleasantly surprised by this! Eating these vegetables is not a chore (not that it usually is, mmmmm, veggies), but I definitely have pre-conceived notions about what veggies should taste like. Taro is used in tons and tons of dishes, both sweet and savory. I’ve heard it goes well with rice (note the absence of mung bean, used in last week’s post).

Serious Eats has the best profile of taro for cooking purposes, and, if you have an ice cream machine, here’s a recipe (and if you try it, let me know how it goes!). I think the addition of coconut cream to this would be even MORE awesome.

Would I buy and eat this again on purpose?
YES, it’s delicious! And a nice change from the cloyingly sweet taste of many ice creams (which I would still eat every day, given the opportunity). I still wish it had purple chunks of taro in it, though. It seems to be a crazy versatile plant. I will have to look for a better-quality ice cream.

4 out of 5, for no purple chunks and because this was clearly a low-quality ice cream. Would I eat taro again? Let’s just say that in my transition to an apartment this week, the kitchen (and hot water) is the thing I’m looking forward to most! I’m gonna cook ALL THE THINGS.