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This item was last sold on : 07/30/20
Taro leaves are medium to large in size and broad and heart-shaped, averaging up to forty centimeters in length and twenty centimeters in width. The leaves are dark green and smooth on the surface and light green on the underside. The underside of the leaves also has veins that branch out from the central stem. Both the veins and stem will have a purple to red hue and are often variegated. Taro plants are predominately known for their starchy, brown, underground tubers. When cooked, the leaves are tender and have a mild, nutty flavor with a slightly metallic, iron taste.
Taro leaves are available year-round.
Taro leaves, botanically classified as Colocasia esculenta, are found on a vigorous growing perennial plant that can reach over two meters in height and belongs to the Araceae family. Also known as Luau, Kalo, Malanga, Elephant's Ear, Keladi, Alu, Taloes, and Dasheen, there are at least eighty-seven varieties and subspecies of taro recognized today. Over ten percent of the world's population uses taro as a staple food and taro leaves are used in addition to the root for culinary and medicinal applications.
Taro leaves are an excellent source of ascorbic acid and dietary fiber, and also contain thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Taro leaves must be cooked before consumption and are best suited for applications such as steaming, frying, sautéing, and boiling. Gloves should also be worn when preparing the leaves to avoid skin irritation. Taro leaves are commonly found in the authentic Hawaiian dish known as lau lau, which consists of wrapping chicken, pork, or salted butterfish in the leaves and then steaming in a makeshift underground oven known as an imu. They can also be spread with a spiced chickpea paste, rolled, steamed, sliced, and deep fried or rolled up tightly and tied into knots and simmered in coconut, red chili, tamarind, coriander, and garlic. Taro leaves make an excellent accompaniment to curries and dishes containing coconut milk. Filipinos use both dried and fresh Taro leaves in a dish called laing, which is a stew that can include shrimp or crab and often paired with steamed rice. Taro leaves pair well with aromatics such as garlic, ginger, and onion, meats such as fish, chicken, pork, and beef, dried shrimp, coconut milk, fish sauce, chilies, sweet potato, chickpeas, and tomatoes. They will keep for a couple of days when stored in a perforated bag in the refrigerator.
Taro leaves are widely used throughout the Pacific Islands, and the most ubiquitous association is with Hawaii where the islands' famous luaus are named after the Taro leaf. The celebrations began with the first Polynesian settlers who brought taro plants with them by canoe. The name luau comes from kalo which was a word used to describe the taro plant. Taro roots are commonly served at luaus in the form of poi, which is fermented taro starch that is made into a paste. The leaves are also used to wrap meats, and they are then steamed in the underground imu oven before serving.
Taro is native to southeast Asia and some estimate that it was being cultivated before 5000 BCE. It then spread to ancient Egypt and later became an important crop in Greece, Rome, and China. When the Polynesians colonized Samoa, they took the Taro plant to Hawaii and New Zealand, and the Spanish brought it to the Americas. Today Taro leaves can be found in fresh markets across the world in Asia, Southeast Asia, Polynesia, the Cook Islands, the Caribbean, and in tropical Africa.
Recipes that include Taro Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
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