Colocasia esculentum or esculenta, or C. antiquorum esculenta

Appears in
New Wave Asian: A Guide to the Southeast Asian Food Revolution

By Sri Owen

Published 2002

  • About
Is also known as coco, cocoyam, eddoe and dasheen. Centuries of breeding have produced many different varieties, hence the many names, but its Pacific Island name, Taro, is the most widespread and perhaps the easiest to remember. It is still the staple food of millions of people, and is popular even where the staple is rice. Its great heart-shaped leaves are a familiar sight over much of tropical Southeast Asia, but it is mainly the big brownish-black tubers that are eaten, sometimes with young leaves and young stems as well. The flesh can be white, yellowish, purple or magenta, and these are colour-fast, not changed by cooking. It is as starchy as a potato and can be cooked in any of the ways that a potato can; taro crisps are becoming a popular snack in the West. Boiled or steamed, taro flesh has a slightly soapy mouth-feel that some Westerners find takes a bit of getting used to.