Monday, June 27, 2011

Colocasia (aka Taro)

Our fabulous market is among the nicest things about living in Stockfish CA. On any given day there will be something for sale which I have never seen. This is taro. I have used its in mature form, but never as a whole young plant. The base was peeled, the whole thing chopped up and simply steamed. It was quite like spinach, as the lady said it would be. So a little coconut milk, some turmeric and fenugreek, a little green chili pepper. Really quite remarkable. Why is this not more popular? The ancient Romans ate it. Especially popular in Cyprus, to this day. And of course all SE Asia, Hawaii, West Africa, S. America. So what happened in the West?


Johanna said...

Sounds really good (I'm a big spinach fan). It's funny to think about which foods have gained popularity in the US and which ones haven't.
I bet taro would taste delicious in ghormeh sabzi (an Iranian herb and bean stew).
Throw it into a pot with some partially cooked kidney beans, onion, garlic, a dried lime, mint, dill, turmeric, coriander, basil, oregano, fenugreek seed, salt and pepper, and a little water. Some chunks of beef or lamb if you're in the mood for it. Cook it down until it's cohesive and fairly mushy, then stir in some lemon juice and serve over rice.
SO good.

Ken Albala said...

That sure does sound good Johanna. I don't think it's something eaten much in arid regions, as it thrives best in the tropics. But still, yum! It has a slightly slimy mucilagenous texture too, so I'm thinking a taro gumbo would be just divine. Well I guess it is already in eddoes, eaten in the Caribbean.

Ken Albala said...

Also, Johanna, I tried but couldn't comment on your blog, which is really nice. We need to talk rosewater! Contact me via email if you see this. Ken

Adam Balic said...

I think that a lot of people that are eating Taro, are actually eating the related New World Xanthosoma spp. Not that it matters very much, but the two independent domestication events is interesting.

I guess what happened in Europe was grain. Better storage, wider range of products that can be made etc. I think that there are also toxicity issues also?

Jonny said...

Cook Islanders and Samoans swear that taro gives them their, shall we say, typically generous proportions. Boiled in seawater and then thrown on a barbecue, taro root retains a nutty aroma that gets smoky from the grill. That said, I've never knowingly had the leaves. Need to seek some out now.