Gabi, well known as taro, also called dasheen, is a starchy tuber that can be used and eaten just like a potato. It has a hairy outer covering that must be removed before using in any recipes. It can cause skin irritation so it is best to wear gloves when handling the tubers.
Gabi or taro can be grown on both dry and wet land. The leaves are sometimes describe as elephant ears in the horticultural world.
It is a tropical plant and is widely grown in W. Africa, the Caribbean and the Polynesian Islands. Hawaiians revered the plants as they used taro as a staple food called “poi” ( “poi” is boiled , mashed taro root).
There are only two varieties of taro that I know when I was growing up. The green-leaf variety has a green stalk and the other variety has a purple stalk But I think the most delicious would be the green-leaf variety. I remember my grandma used to boil them and then we dipped them in freshly grated coconut with white sugar. It has a nutty flavor and a wonderful snack but it could be a good breakfast too. Taro provides fiber, protein and calcium in our diet.
Leaves are also edible. Filipinos in the Southern Luzon make this type of cooking popular. This recipe is called “laing”. The main ingredient are the taro leaves together with coconut milk, anchovies and hot chili peppers which we call “siling labuyo”, which means “wild peppers”, the smallest but the hottest peppers in the world I think. It is comparable with the Tabasco peppers in Louisiana in my opinion. They also put ginger into this dish. You need to boil the leaves together with all the ingredients until the coconut is creamy and the oil is almost extracted.
Taro is now being manufactured here in Hawaii like potato chips with different flavor selections.
Taro is easy to grow. You can buy the tuber from the market and stick to the ground and it will grow leaves in no time. And the main plant will grow baby plants so you have tubers continually growing all year long. It needs moist, organic soil. It’s best to make a hill on the root part of the plant to develop good tubers.