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How to Cook Taro Stalks - Picture Tutorial

Updated on October 12, 2014

Cooking taro stalks - step by step picture instructions

My favourite local lunch dish is something few of us eat regularly - taro stalks. Since information on taro stalks isn't that easy to find, I'm going to write about it myself.

I hope my instructions, tips and step-by-step pictures help you learn to cook taro stalks. They really are delicious, easy to cook and good for you!

Taro stalks are the spongy, tender sticks attached to the taro root. If you live in a warm climate, you can probably grow your own taro very easily, or find some at a friend's house (many people know them as Elephant Ears, even though they are a different variety of the same plant). Taro stalks can be found around the world in Asian grocery stores, the ethnic section of the greengrocer's, or farmer's markets.

Photo of a taro leaf from yumievriwan via photopin cc

A word of caution

Taro stalks are high in oxylates, so never eat them raw. When eaten raw or undercooked, it can cause itching and tickling of the mouth and throat.

My recipe involves cooking the stalks and then baking them so it is perfectly safe.

Pictured is my famous taro stalks au gratin, which my husband asks me to make regularly. It's a delicious dish!

The day the photo was taken, I served it alongside baked fish with spinach. This gratin recipe makes for 4 servings as an accompaniment. Fish, as well as grilled meats go really well with it.

  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 50 min
  • Ready in: 1 hour
  • Yields: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 kg taro stalks
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp rock sea salt
  • half tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 sprig or half tsp dried thyme
  • half cup tomato puree
  • 3 Tbsp creme fraiche
  • half cup grated emmental or gruyere cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • half cup water

Instructions

  1. - Peel, wash and chop the taro stalks as shown in the pictures further down the page.
  2. - In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with the salt and pepper to form a thick paste.
  3. - Heat a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and fry the onions until softened. Scoop the paste out of the mortar, and add to the saucepan. Fry for about a minute until fragrant.
  4. - Add the tomato paste, still well and scrape off any stuck pieces of garlic or onion off the bottom of the pan.
  5. - Add the chopped taro stalks, the thyme and mix until the taro is coated by the sauce.
  6. - Add half the water, reduce to the lowest heat and leave covered for around 15 minutes. Check every 5 minutes and add more water if the mixture starts to stick.
  7. - Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.
  8. - Once cooked, add the creme fraiche and stir through. Transfer mixture to a gratin dish, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for around 40 minutes until golden.
5 stars from 1 rating of Recipe for Taro Stalks au Gratin

What are taro stalks?

Pictured are the stalks of elephant's ear taro ("Borneo giant" Alocasia sp. hybrid).

Many people are familiar with taro, that grenade-shaped root that's white, grey or purple on the inside and most commonly used to make poi in Hawaii or cakes and chips in Asian countries.

In fact, the stalks and leaves that grow out of this root above ground are edible and just as delicious as the taro root. There are many varieties of taro, and there seems to be a confusion on whether Elephant Ear - which you might have in your garden - is edible or not.

Most varieties are edible, but click the link below to make sure you've got the right one before tucking in.

Photo credit: Joel Abroad via photopin cc

Where can I find taro and stalks?

Picture by ChildofMidnight GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0,via Wikimedia Commons

Living in a tropical country, I can find taro roots, stalks and leaves at any farmer's market. It's also very easy to grow at home and makes a nice decorative plant.

If you live in a temperate climate, you might like to try looking in Asian or other ethnic grocery stores or in the exotic section of your local supermarket. The picture above is taken from an Asian market in California.

Taro can also be found in people's gardens - you might have some growing without knowing it! Just be extra careful and make sure it really is taro before you eat it. Taro and Elephant Ear are the same family and are often mistaken for each other.

How to prepare taro stalks for cooking

Whether you end up using my recipe or another one, it's handy to see how to prepare taro stalks for cooking. You'll need to peel the membranes off the stalk, clean them well and chop them before use.

My apologies for the photos, which aren't the best. It's the rainy season here in the tropics, and the house was dark when I took them.

Choose your taro stalks

Choose your taro stalks
Choose your taro stalks

Peel off the thin film

Peel off the thin film
Peel off the thin film

Take apart the stalk for better access

Take apart the stalk for better access
Take apart the stalk for better access

Wash thoroughly

Wash thoroughly
Wash thoroughly

Cut off any remaining taro root

Cut off any remaining taro root
Cut off any remaining taro root

Slice the taro stalks

Slice the taro stalks
Slice the taro stalks
Libertyware GMP6 Granite 6" Mortar & Pestle Set
Libertyware GMP6 Granite 6" Mortar & Pestle Set

Anybody who cooks needs a mortar and pestle. I have several of different sizes and would be lost without them.They make every dish taste amazing, because pounding spices, herbs and garlic brings out an intense flavour that you can't achieve in any other way.Granite is my choice for the best results, and this one is the perfect size for a couple or small family (although bigger sizes are available).

 

Must-have equipment for a great Taro Stalk gratin

Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware 1-Quart Oval Au Gratin Dish, Cerise (Cherry Red)
Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware 1-Quart Oval Au Gratin Dish, Cerise (Cherry Red)

A good quality stoneware dish like this one will ensure your gratin browns evenly, stays hot while serving and looks great at the table. I have several pieces by Le Creuset and love how easy they are to clean, how long they last and how pretty they look.

 

Making Taro Stalks au Gratin step-by-step

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Crush the garlic, salt and pepper with a mortar and pestle. It will smell incredible.Assemble all ingredients - slice the onions, heat up a heavy bottomed pot and open the tomato puree.Fry the onions and garlic paste in butter.Add the tomato puree.Add the chopped taro stalks.Don't forget the thyme!Let simmer over a low heat until the taro becomes soft and the sauce thickens.Add the creme fraiche and be amazed that it doesn't split with the heat.Choose your prettiest gratin dish, and sprinkle the mixture with a yummy French cheese.Serve your golden, bubbly gratin with fish or another protein.
Crush the garlic, salt and pepper with a mortar and pestle. It will smell incredible.
Crush the garlic, salt and pepper with a mortar and pestle. It will smell incredible.
Assemble all ingredients - slice the onions, heat up a heavy bottomed pot and open the tomato puree.
Assemble all ingredients - slice the onions, heat up a heavy bottomed pot and open the tomato puree.
Fry the onions and garlic paste in butter.
Fry the onions and garlic paste in butter.
Add the tomato puree.
Add the tomato puree.
Add the chopped taro stalks.
Add the chopped taro stalks.
Don't forget the thyme!
Don't forget the thyme!
Let simmer over a low heat until the taro becomes soft and the sauce thickens.
Let simmer over a low heat until the taro becomes soft and the sauce thickens.
Add the creme fraiche and be amazed that it doesn't split with the heat.
Add the creme fraiche and be amazed that it doesn't split with the heat.
Choose your prettiest gratin dish, and sprinkle the mixture with a yummy French cheese.
Choose your prettiest gratin dish, and sprinkle the mixture with a yummy French cheese.
Serve your golden, bubbly gratin with fish or another protein.
Serve your golden, bubbly gratin with fish or another protein.

Other recipes for taro and taro stalks

photo credit: avlxyz via photopin cc

I just love taro. The root is dense, delicious and very versatile while the stalks are great at absorbing the flavours of whatever they're cooked with.

I've got a few recipes saved to make in the near future. Don't they sound tempting?

- Taro stalks with coconut and chillies

- Use the taro root to make crunchy baked chips

- This steamed taro cake with Chinese sausage and shrimp looks unique yet delicious.

- Or how about a fish noodle soup with taro stalks?

Have you tried taro stalks? Leave your thoughts here

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I don't know that I've heard of Taro before but your recipe sounds very soul satisfying and richly delicious, congratulations on a yummy Bravo Squidoo feature...your intro picture is very freshly inviting! :)

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Australia

      We have taro growing abundantly in our garden, but I am yet to eat them - thank you for the tips and encouragement.

    • Jack2205 profile image

      Jack 4 years ago

      I have heard of taro stalks but I can't find it anywhere local. Excellent instructions, especially the pictures.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      Well you learn something new every day here on squidoo. I've heard of taro. I've never seen it in my local stores. But now I'll keep my eyes open.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 4 years ago

      Great lens and congrats on LOTD. Never considered elephant ears to be taro. Unfortunately they don't sell these leaves in our local shops so probably will never get to try this delicious dish.

    • hovirag profile image

      hovirag 4 years ago

      I have never eaten taro stalks but your recipe sounds delicious! Congratulations on your awards :)

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 4 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      I have heard of Taro, but have never eaten it before. Congrats on LOTD, great Lens!

    • profile image

      BestGifts2U 4 years ago

      Great pictures and instructions for cooking and cleaning taro stalks. Also congrats on Lens of the day.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image
      Author

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      @junecampbell: Yes, it is the same plant used for poi. You can see on one of the pictures above that there's still a bit of the taro root attached. There are many varieties of taro, though.

    • BestofHalloween profile image

      BestofHalloween 4 years ago

      Congratulations for lens of day award. Never heard of these vegetables, will have to check out the vege shop.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image
      Author

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      @kathysart: I have no idea, I'm not in the U.S. I'd say all taro products need to be cooked very well to avoid itchy throat.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image
      Author

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      @kathysart: Yes, the whole taro plant is delicious but needs to be cooked well. I've linked an identification website above for people to see what kind of taro they've got.

    • profile image

      TopChristmasToysGifts 4 years ago

      Taro Stalks au Gratin looks like it would be a hearty family meal. Congrats on LOTD! Great tutorial lens on Taro Stalks.

    • TopReviews2u profile image

      TopReviews2u 4 years ago

      Congratulations on Lens of the Day! I have not heard about Taro Stalks before. Thank you for your detailed lens and pictures, especially how to clean them in preparation for cooking.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! I've had Taro Roots but never stalks...interesting recipe, sounds good.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image

      DLeighAlexander 4 years ago

      This is something new for me, will have to give them a try. Congratulations on receiving LOTD!

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image

      KamalaEmbroidery 4 years ago

      I've never heard of taro stalks, only the root. Thanks for the instructions.

    • Corrinna-Johnson profile image

      Corrinna Johnson 4 years ago from BC, Canada

      I have never heard of taro before, but they look interesting. I will have to keep my eye out for some in one of the Asian markets we have in western Canada!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 4 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @choosehappy: I have not seen taro stalks, although I suspect you could probably buy them somewhere in Vancouver. Is this the same plant as taro root, which is used for making poi? I would suppose it must be.

    • LTykarski093 profile image

      LTykarski093 4 years ago

      I love to experiment with new ingredients will be trying this one in the future (if I can find the taro in my area.)

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 4 years ago

      OK.. I see where you mentioned itchy throat.. but it is not just when you eat them raw. Maybe the taro available on the mainland is not as potent.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 4 years ago

      Living in Hawaii for many years I fell head over heels with poi.. the root of taro. I made dishes with taro leaves and the one lesson I learned about the leaves is that you have to cook them for a LONG time or you get what is called "itchy throat". It is horrible. When I say a LONG time I mean like 2 HOURS. I am wondering if home grown taro like you mention here is the same taro.

    • Pat Broker profile image

      Pat Broker 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I haven't tried taro stalks, however, growing up in Hawaii I did eat poi quite often which is made from the taro root. Your gratin recipe looks yummy and love the photo directions.

    • francescajohnston profile image

      francescajohnston 4 years ago

      Very interesting! Thanks for this great info! Your pictures are excellent as well!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      This looks really delicious. Congratulations on receiving the LOTD. Yum!

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      I haven't heard of these, but they look like something I would love; most definitely will give them a try!

    • Rosetta Slone profile image
      Author

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      @Kentroofer: Nothing like celery - the stalks can become spongy or velvety soft depending on the length of cooking and the taste is very bland unlike celery's rather distinct taste.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image
      Author

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      @Kailua-KonaGirl: That info is already above, in the grey box :)And I've got a link to an identification page so people can make sure they've got the right plant before eating it. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Rosetta Slone profile image
      Author

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      @captainj88: Pin and share away! More people should know about this delicious vegetable.

    • Kentroofer profile image

      Kentroofer 4 years ago

      I too have never heard of Taro Stalks, I guess England isn't really a tropical country :-) but thanks for this I will look out for them. They look a little like celery I wonder if I tastes similar.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image
      Author

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      @aka-rms: Wow! What a great compliment, thank you!

    • Rosetta Slone profile image
      Author

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      @anonymous: Everyone should try taro stalks :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I didn't even know Taro Stalks existed. Very educational lens. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      Coming from Hawaii I have eaten lots of taro in my time, but never thought about preparing it Au Gratin. It would be good to tell people not all taro is edible and it should never be eaten raw! It will give a very unpleasant, itchy tongue and throat. Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 4 years ago

      Though I've never heard of this before, I do wonder if I've eaten it without knowing it as my brother is married to an Asian woman and she has brought many interesting and delicious recipes into the family. This is a lovely page, the pictures are wonderful, really enjoyed my visit. Congratulations on receiving LOTD.

    • fifta profile image

      fifta 4 years ago

      I have never heard about taro stalks before. But your recipe looks yummy.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This sounds like more of my country recipe and the most popular from us is the taro stalks with coconut and chillies. We call taro as "laing". Congrats for the LOTD you deserve it for this great lens

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I like to try new things. I have never eaten Taro stalks before, but if I ever find them in the grocery, I'll pick some up. I'm pinning this article for future reference. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      You make the food look so good and healthy.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I've never tried taro stalks, but your recipe looks delicious! What a great lens - everything we need to know on the topic. Great job! Congratulations on your mouthwatering Lens of the Day!

    • Cal-gal profile image

      Meredith Davies 4 years ago

      No, I have never tried them although I have heard about them. I live in the tropics but not sure if they grow in this region or not. Interesting lens.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 4 years ago from USA

      Congratulations, this lens was selected as Lens of the Day today. You can read more about it at SquidooHQ: http://hq.squidoo.com/lotd/lens-of-the-day-how-to-...

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Not to my knowledge, although I have traveled in the tropics and may have without knowing what it was. I do not recall ever having seen it even in the Asian section of the supermarket here in Nova Scotia, Canada.

    • kindoak profile image

      kindoak 4 years ago

      I have seen them but never knew they were edible. Very interesting!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I loved it... ;)

    • Grandma-Marilyn profile image

      Grandma-Marilyn 4 years ago

      I had never heard of taro until this lens. Thank you for writing it.

    • profile image

      allinfavor 4 years ago

      The stalks are edible? That's news to me. I know people cook and eat the roots but never seen anyone actually cook the stalks.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We have taro but I have not yet cooked the stalks. Will have to try.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Not knowingly, though they may well have been in dishes I've tried in restaurants. Beautifully done page, informative. That recipe looks scrumptious.

    • ian-patrick-716 profile image

      ian-patrick-716 4 years ago

      I must admit I've never heard of them, I'll look out for some.

    • profile image

      bookguy1960 4 years ago

      Thanks for posting cooking instuctions and recipes for taro. I occasionally see taro stalks in the supermarkets here in Southern California, but before now have not run across much about preparing them. I'm looking forward to trying the fish noodle soup - looks delicious!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I've never seen them for sale but I love to try new vegetables so I will have a go at cooking them if I ever see them.

    • bornot2b1 profile image

      bornot2b1 4 years ago

      hmm, your recipe is very interesting. My friends cooked the taro stalks with fish, pineapple, tomato, etc (the etc part I am not sure what they are), but they served the soup hot with rice, yum yum...

    • chi kung profile image

      chi kung 4 years ago

      I haven't eaten taro before - I don't think I have ever seen that vegetable - sounds good though!

    • hotsquid profile image

      hotsquid 4 years ago

      I love taro, but never tried taro stalks. I don't know you can eat the stalks :).

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 4 years ago

      I use taro stalks and roots for cooking. Even the leaves are not spared!

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 4 years ago

      Haven't eaten the taro stalks that I know of or can remember but have eaten poi before when in Hawaii. Your recipe and lens sounds interesting. Appreciate you sharing as the final dish looks tasty. I would be willing to give it a try. Have a Great Day!

    • Tom Maybrier profile image

      Tom Maybrier 4 years ago

      Taro is delicious!

    • profile image

      eleanorfabra 4 years ago

      You can also try it with coconut milk and sliced chili peppers. I'm sure you will love it.

    • PhilVardy profile image

      PhilVardy 4 years ago

      Cool lens; I'm actually learning something here!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      Very interesting - I live in Colorado and have not eaten Taro before.

    • profile image

      candy47 4 years ago

      I've never eaten taro stalks, except for poi. Your recipe looks delicious and easy :) Lovely lens! Blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have never had the chance to give these a try. They look interesting though. Thanks for the recipe!

    • profile image

      sybil watson 4 years ago

      I never knew you could eat the stalks, although living in Hawaii I've frequently had the leaves (called luau leaves) and of course the root made into poi. Your recipe sounds delicious.

    • jc stone profile image

      Jordan 4 years ago

      No i have never eaten elephant ears. I did not know it was an edible plant. One day i will have to try to get some because i live in Pennsylvania. This is a really neat lens. I like hearing about different vegetables.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 4 years ago from GRENADA

      No, I haven't tried taro stalks, Pitaya, but this looks delicious and I love the picture tutorial idea.

    • CraftyStaci profile image

      CraftyStaci 4 years ago

      I've never heard of taro stalks, but now I'm a bit fascinated. Thanks for introducing me to them!