Look for taro corms in Pacific-Asian grocery stores. They should be heavy and hard, with a bark-like skin. Raw taro contains calcium oxalate, a natural pesticide. These tiny, needle-like crystals cause severe itching in the mouth and throat; cooking taro thoroughly removes them. Use a cold-press or masticating juicer for this recipe.
- Rinse the corm and place in a large pot. Add cool water, covering the corm by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook gently for about one hour, until a cake tester is easily pushed through the entire corm. Remove from the water and let cool completely.
- Bring a 2-quart saucepan of water to a boil. Peel the corm with a vegetable peeler and cut it into 1-by-3-inch lengths. Put the pieces in the boiling water and cook for three minutes, until the taro is warmed throughout. Boiling taro a second time makes the paste creamy instead of grainy.
- While the taro cooks, pour 2 cups of cold water into a measuring cup. Replace the juicing screen on the cold-press juicer with the blank cone. Position a 6-cup bowl under the juicer so it catches the extruded paste from the blank cone as well as water from the drum (where the pulp and juice normally come out).
- Using tongs, place the hot taro into the feeder, extruding sausage-shaped tubes. Continue until all of the taro is processed. Remove the bowl and set aside. Note that taro at this stage can be used as a base for vegan burgers.
- Place another bowl under the juicer and push the taro tubes through the juicer again, this time adding about 2 tablespoons of water with each tube. Running the ground taro a second time ensures a fine texture. Adding water turns the tubes into paiai.
- Use a whisk to throughly combine water and taro. Store the paiai in an airtight container on the countertop. For poi, add more water until it’s the consistency of ketchup and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.