Yesterday I was at my asian/african food store (for stocking up on shredded coconut, coconut milk, chicken hearts, 10% fat Turkish yoghurt). As usual, I bought some veggies and fruit. And I tried something new: cocoyam or taro.
I have never before used this myself, nor tasted it. Any ideas of how to prepare these? Any recipes?
The plant is inedible when raw and considered toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals, typically as raphides. The toxin is minimized by cooking, especially with a pinch of baking soda. It can also be reduced by steeping taro roots in cold water overnight. Calcium oxalate is highly insoluble and contributes to kidney stones. It has been recommended to take milk or other calcium rich foods with Taro. Taro leaves also must be handled with care due to toxicity of the leaves, but are completely safe after cooking.
You can pound it and ferment it to make poi. The leaves are used in laulau together with pork, pork fat, butter fish, and salt. I love laulau so much that I have seriously contemplated having it shipped in from Hawaii. The poi however, it is apparently an acquired taste, to me it tastes like paste (and yes I did sample the mint scented paste at a young age). One thing that I have done with poi that I liked but might be frowned upon here, I soaked it, sliced it, and double fried it in tallow. Best chips ever.