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How to cook taro

November 25, 2010

Taro, Colocasia esculenta (Araceae), is an ancient source of carbohydrates in Thailand and Southeast Asia. It is one of the earliest crops grown by Stone Age man, and it is believed that rice later came in as a weed in the wet taro fields. Some taro varieties have edible leaf stalks, but they need thorough cooking to remove the raphids (calcium oxalate crystals). They are so sharp that they cause a sore throat without proper cooking.

Read more about taro trade here!

Taro flowers are sometimes cooked too, especially in China. However, it is the corm (the swollen stem base) that is the classical source of food. Simply pull up a plant, cut off the top of the corm including a couple of roots, cut off the leaves and put it back in the mud. Thereby the plant will grow back again. The harvested root bundle will cover the enlarged stem base, which you simply peel like a potato. One way of cooking the corm is to boil it like a potato, but the result is quite mushy. At Dokmai Garden our family usually steam the taro corms, i.e. put the peeled corms in a special container with water, and then put the steamer on an open fire (see pictures below). Aroi!

Ketsanee Seehamongkol

Taro leaves


Taro corms


Taro ready for outplanting


Thai steamer


The interior of a Thai steamer


Mushy taro with its typical lavender tinge



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