I once went to a Chinese restaurant with a Chinese friend, and there was this sort of yam which was white colored and covered with a whole bunch of red/pink dots resembling freckles and these dots would be found inside of it whenever cut. This food was then boiled in a pot of water and other stuff on the table and once soft it could be eaten just like a yam or potato and was very delicious.

My friend said in Chinese it's called wooden potato or wooden potato (something like "mu shu", perhaps 木薯). However, I wasn't able to find this anywhere on the Internet (or, at least, I was not able to find the one with all the red/pink freckles). Anyone know what this kind is properly called (in Chinese and in English), where to find more information about it, and where to buy it?


  • I have to admit that the first thing I thought about "mu shu" is this... =D Jan 14, 2015 at 18:44
  • Interesting, how do you write MuShu the dragon from MuLan in Chinese? Anyways, I'm sure this is not it, it could even be that the wording my friend from Beijing used is in some local dialect, and so not everyone may be aware of it, although I don't know for sure. Thanks. Jan 14, 2015 at 18:51
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    It is written as 木須 (I don't really know Chinese ;)) If you google for 木須 images you get beside images of the pocket dragon images of a chinese dish as well o_o Stir-fried noodles with mu-err mushrooms, egg, cucumber / leafy greens, pork/chicken. Jan 14, 2015 at 19:09
  • Somewhat different from what I was after, but now I also know about Mù xū (木須). Thanks. :-) Jan 14, 2015 at 20:27
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    It's not taro? It fits your description bang on
    – Huangism
    Jan 14, 2015 at 20:30

2 Answers 2


By your description I would say it's taro or 芋头 (yu tao) in chinese


enter image description here

It can be bought in most chinese supermarkets

For more info http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taro

  • Yeah, I say it's definitely this one. Google translate spells out the pronounciation of 芋头 as Yùtou, I think that's what you meant. I don't know why my friend said it's a wooden tomato/potato, the Chinese spelling doesn't seem to suggest that. Perhaps there are regional variations on what it's called throughout China (?). Anyways, thanks!!! Jan 14, 2015 at 20:35
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    The 2 items are quite similar and easy to get confused. If your friend is not the person who cooked it then he/she might not know exactly which it is. I am from north eastern part of china and my wife is from the south, we both call it Yu tao. It's just a mistake of identity from your friend.
    – Huangism
    Jan 14, 2015 at 20:51
  • Thanks. Yes, I think my friend must have been confused by the similarity, that explains it. Is tou pronounced tao by some people in China? My dictionary spells the pinyin pronounciation of 头 as tóu, or just tou since here it's the fifth/neutral tone. Is your spelling due to some regional variation in pronounciation (?). Thanks. Jan 14, 2015 at 21:10
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    @JohnSonderson It's tóu not tao, as in the same pronunciation as 头. As far as I know there is no variation but then again I only lived in china from the age of 1 to 12.
    – Huangism
    Jan 15, 2015 at 13:47

木薯 (pronounced mù shǔ, literally translated as wood tuber) seems to be nothing other than cassava / maniok / tapioca. Did it look like this?

enter image description here
by Amada44, source

Often only the products made by cassava starch or the starch itself is called tapioca.

In Germany you can find cassava in asian grocery stores but in large "normal" grocery stores, too. I guess this also applies to any other location.

  • Thank you for your reply. The Merriam Webster Dictionary lists cassava and manioc as the plant name and tapioca as anything made out of its small white grains. I've tasted it and the taste is very similar. However, I am unable to find the species which has the pinkish red dots all over its inside as I was able to see in the restaurant which had it all cut up into pieces on the shelf. Any idea what variety of cassava it might be? Thanks. Jan 14, 2015 at 20:20
  • Anyways, I don't really understands where inside the cassava the small tapioca grains come from. I don't see them in the picture you posted. Could you please enlighten me? Thanks. Jan 14, 2015 at 20:47
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    The grains are not inside the cassava. The grains are made from cassva starch, not from the root directly. ;) Jan 14, 2015 at 20:51
  • Interesting, thanks! So, starting from the cassava, how do you extract the starch and then make tapioca from it? Thanks. Jan 14, 2015 at 21:01
  • @JohnSonderson this is not a bad question, but you should ask it on its own.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 14, 2015 at 21:26

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