Thai taro corms widely vary in appearance, depending on cultivation time, soil, and climate. The corms are generally small to medium in size, averaging 12 to 13 centimeters in length, and are round to oblong in shape. Each taro plant produces one central corm, and the corms variegated dark to light brown skin is rough with an uneven, scaly texture comprised of faint horizontal rings and fiber-like hairs. Underneath the surface, the flesh is dense, dry, and starchy, primarily white with subtle purple speckling. Thai taro must be cooked, developing a smooth, thick, sticky, and semi-fluffy consistency. The flesh has a mild, earthy, sweet, nutty, and subtly musky flavor. In addition to the corms, the plants produce large dark green heart-shaped leaves on long stems, connecting into the corms. The young leaves are edible when cooked, providing a vegetal, grassy, and green flavor.
Thai taro is an excellent source of fiber to regulate the digestive tract, vitamin E to protect the cells against free radical damage, potassium to balance fluid levels, and vitamin C to strengthen the immune system while reducing inflammation. The corms also provide copper to develop connective tissues, calcium and phosphorus to build strong bones and teeth; magnesium to regulate nerve functioning, and other amounts of B vitamins, iron, zinc, vitamin K, and manganese. In addition to the corms, Thai taro leaves are a rich source of vitamin K to assist in faster wound healing. Vitamin C to boost the immune system, and other nutrients, including iron, calcium, vitamins A and E, magnesium, and vitamin B2.
Thai taro has a mild and sweet flavor well suited for cooked preparations. It is important to note that the corn must be cooked as raw taro contains calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals irritate the linings in the throat and make the skin feel itchy if exposed. Gloves are recommended when handling taro, and the skin should be removed before cooking. Thai taro is traditionally boiled or steamed in Thailand and is often sold in local markets as a cooked, on-the-go snack. Boiled slices are sold in cellophane bags, or the corms are thinly sliced and fried into chips. The corms are also combined with tapioca starch and deep-fried into snack-like fritters, formed into dumplings, stuffed with prawns, and fried or cooked into soups and curries. Beyond savory preparations, Thai taro is popularly incorporated into sweet dessert recipes, showcasing the corms thick, smooth, and sweet nature. The corms can be finely chopped and folded into sticky rice, steamed to soften the mixture and enhance flavor. They can also be used to flavor ice cream, boiled with coconut milk as a sweet treat, mashed into rice dough balls, cooked into custards, or steamed into pudding. Thai taro pairs well with ginger, turmeric, hot sauces, coconut, seafood, mushrooms, squash, azuki, red bean, and vanilla. Whole, unwashed taro corms will keep for a couple of days when stored in a cool, dark location.
Thai taro is available year-round.