Taro is a plant grown in French Polynesia, used for its edible stem and leaves. It is often eaten as a puree or starch and is considered a staple in Polynesian cuisine. There are several varieties, at least thirty, but the two most frequently used are taro veo and mana ura.
Many tarodières exist in French Polynesia. They can be found all over French Polynesia, but it’s in the Australs that taro likes to grow best.
Taro has many benefits: its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and digestive properties were known to the ancient Polynesians. Its leaves are used to heal skin wounds and regulate perspiration, while its flowers relieve stomach upsets.
Taro is rich in starch, fiber, iron and key nutrients such as vitamins and amino acids. It acts as an appetite suppressant, benefits cardiovascular health and has antioxidant properties.
In the kitchen
Taro is eaten plain, cooked for a long time in slightly sweet water. It is eaten in the same way as ‘uru. It’s delicious fried as French fries or potato chips! It’s also eaten with fāfaru, a dish of fresh fish in fermented water. Fish and taro are accompanied by Miti hue, a traditional condiment made from the fermentation of grated almonds from still-green coconuts, seawater and crushed goat’s head. In the Chinese community, for example, it’s eaten as a fritter stuffed with meat (see recipe below).