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Definition: taro from Philip's Encyclopedia

Large, tropical plant native to the Pacific islands and SE Asia and cultivated in other parts of the world for its edible tuberous root. Family Araceae; species Colocasia esculenta.

Summary Article: Taro
from The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients

As corn or maize, potatoes, and wheat are staples for people who live in the temperate regions of the world, so taro is a staple in the tropics around the globe. Although called a root, it is actually a corm, or swollen stem base. There are many varieties, ranging widely in size and shape, and its numerous names include dasheen, eddo, and colocasia. Large taros have a dense texture; smaller varieties tend to be smoother and creamier when cooked. Taro has a unique aroma and flavor, like a cross between chestnuts, coconut, and white potato. Large varieties are strongly flavored; small ones are more bland.


Taro is available year-round. Choose corms that are very hard, with no splitting, softness, pits, or mold.


Keep at room temperature in a well-ventilated, cool place for no more than 2 days, because taro loses quality quickly.


Steam, boil, fry, or deep-fry, or add to soups and stews. Once cooked, purée taro to use as the base for soufflés or croquettes.


Candy pieces in syrup like marrons glacés.

Flavor pairings

Sweet potatoes, chili, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, toasted sesame oil.

Classic recipes

Hawaiian poi.

Preparing taro

Raw taro can cause skin and eye irritation, so wear rubber gloves when preparing it.

  1. Hold the taro under cold, running water and use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin.

  2. Cut out any soft spots or discolored patches from the firm, moist flesh, then cut into slices or cubes.

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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