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[Aroid-l] Colocasia gigantea

  • Subject: [Aroid-l] Colocasia gigantea
  • From: "David Sizemore" <maui4me@charter.net>
  • Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2007 23:52:58 -0400

Hello all, I've been on this list for some time but usually just lurk and absorb the knowledge of the wise contributors. I've noticed that discussions about Colocasia gigantea crop up from time to time. I've grown it for a long time and remember being told it was edible by the Vietnamese lady that I got it from. I found an excerpt from a book that discusses it's edibility that might be interesting to the more adventurous of you:
"There are many kinds of taro, and one member of the Colocasia family, Colocasia gigantea, produces no tuber, neither is the leaf eaten, but the leaf stalks are sliced and used in Cambodian and Vietnamese soups, lightly cooked and still crisp. Their porous structure enables them to hold the flavoursome stock much as a sponge holds water. They have also been discovered by adventurous chefs of other persuasions and are served sliced in salads and other dishes where the delicate flavour and crisp texture find favour. These petioles (leaf stalks) may even be eaten raw, but first make sure they are the right kind - the Japanese call it zuiki; Cambodians and Vietnamese, bac ha. Ask for an English translation and they will tell you 'taro', but it is best to buy it from a shop and not to go foraging yourself unless you are knowledgeable about such matters."

Cambodia: bac ha (leaf petioles)
China: woo tau, yu
Fiji: rou rou
Hawaii: luau
India: arvi, patra
Indonesia: talas
Japan: sato-imo (yam), zuiki (leaf petioles)
Malaysia: keladi
Philippines: gabi
Sri Lanka: kiri ala
Tahiti: fafa
Thailand: phueak
Vietnam: khoai mon
From Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Australia)
From personal experience, a Chinese friend of mine tried munching on a small
piece of an uncooked leaf of C. gigantea and immediately had a reaction from the calcium oxalate crystals setting her tongue on fire! I never could convince here to cook the stalks only and try them after that little incident. One of the best things about this beautiful plant besides being ornamental and edible is that is usually fully hardy here in the Tennessee mountains.

David Sizemore
Kingsport, TN
Zone 6b/7a

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