Both the root (or corm as it is sometimes called) and the leaf of the Taro plant are edible. Inside the flesh is pure white with streaks of purple and the root is circled by a deep purple edge.
Taro must be cooked before eating - when raw it contains a compound called calcium oxalate that is extremely harmful. Some of the problems range from burning sensations in the mouth and throat as well as swelling and constriction of the throat, digestive and breathing problems, liver and kidney damage, coma and death. This is the same compound found in rhubarb leaves which is the reason you should never eat rhubarb leaves.
If you're now feeling a little unsure about whether you really want to try some taro then I think this dish will quell some of those worries. Super simple to make, with a bit of a novelty factor, it's an ideal companion for those lazy afternoon cocktails with friends - taro chips!
neutral oil, for deep frying
Prepare the taro:
Peel the thick skin from the taro and then slice very finely using a mandoline or a knife - the thinner the slice the quicker they will cook. Depending on the size of the taro root you may find it easier to cut it in half and then slice into semi-circles.
Cook the chips:
Heat your oil to about 170°C and carefully place in the a few of the chips at a time being careful that they don't stick together. They will cook in less than a minute - you'll notice that they will quickly change from being floppy to being hard - they won't colour in the same way that potato does, so use the texture change as your indicator that they are done. Remove the chips with a slotted spoon, drain and then scatter them over paper towels to remove any excess oil. Continue frying the chips in batches until they are all done.
Serve at once - sprinkled with flakes of sea salt if desired.