Faux Kulolo: Sweet Potato Pudding | thumb in plum

Kulolo is known as taro pudding but I find the consistency more like a fudge. A chewy, delicately flavored, fudge made by steaming a mix of grated taro, coconut milk, and sugar. The taste reminds me of home and love. It reminds me of Grandpa Masa, who would make it by hand and wrap a nice big block of it for me because he knew how much I love it. It reminds me of every happy luau I had back home because not only would you get haupia but a nice bite of kulolo too. It reminds me of smiling faces, ukulele music, and long drives to random places. One bite and those are all the things I think of.

Here, on Oahu, I don't see too much kulolo around. Most of what I've found is shipped from Kauai and if you're lucky you can snatch it up from Sack and Save on Thursdays, if you get there on time, or from Boyds on Wednesdays. Kulolo cravings when I was pregnant usually ended with a sad day. I am now bound and determined to make it.

But what do you do when there's no taro around? You improvise. This pudding is made from Okinawan sweet potato instead. Sweet potato is readily available and costs less. That means less cooking time and no itchy hands.

Faux Kulolo: Sweet Potato Pudding
  • 6 cups Okinawan sweet potato (purple), peeled and shredded. I used a food processor.
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 ti leaves (optional)
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl
  2. Grease a crock pot lined with foil (that's what I did but I think you'd be able to skip the foil) or ti leaves if you have it. Pour mixture into crock and cook on high for 4 hours or until the edges are caramelized and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
  3. Let cool with the lid on. Dump out onto cutting board and slice into long blocks. Slice and serve thick pieces. Garnish with shredded coconut (if so desired).
  4. To store wrap with plastic wrap or use an airtight container. Keep in the fridge.
 Notes: Do not make the mistake of dumping it out while it was still hot as I did. It lost steam and therefore, dried out a bit. I strongly suggest overcoming the urge to "just go for it already." Also next time around I might add another smidgen of coconut milk, up to a half cup (or maybe even more, what the hell, let's live a little) next time around to give it that distinctive flavor.

Survey says? It's good. I think this will become a family staple. Eva has already eaten an entire block and is still asking for more- down, girl! It may not be as good as traditional kulolo (nothing ever will be, if it doesn't come from an imu- fo'get about it!) but it does satisfy. 

Now to tackle kulolo...


  1. Anonymous1/22/2013

    Oh MAN this made me miss kulolo something awful... Most of my family didn't like it when I was growing up, so it was such a rare treat when we had some in the house. I can feel that flavor in my mouth if I so much as think about it! Your mock version looks like it came out pretty dry in comparison to what I picture kulolo being... Do you think the moisture would stay in if you let it cool down in the crock pot? I'm sad to even ask, haha, because I can't find taro or Okinowan sweet potatoes here! Wah wah wah... I'd ask you to send me some, but maybe I should just ask for a nice block of kulolo instead? : )

    Also - I have to tell you - I am a huge fan of your blog. I'm always so excited when you post something new... Both because I love your photos and recipes, as well as how much it rekindles this deep missing of Hawaii in me that is eased by your words of and from home.

    1. Yay you for knowing the awesomeness that is kulolo :D
      It did end up dry, boo. I put it in my notes. It was a lot more moist before I took it out- way too early. Definately need to learn some patience. I think I will add more coconut milk next time too, just to avoid that in the near future. My next project is kulolo so you should send me your address. If I fail I promise I'll send some store bought instead (when I can find it) :P

      Thanks Jules! That means a lot to me, coming from you. You've always been (and are) so smart and talented. I love being able to see what you've been doing with your tasty pictures and your life recipes.

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