Corms are sections of the plant stem of a number of different plants that is usually located underground. The corm is often the section of the stem that is used by the live plant as the storage center for nourishment during cold weather or summertime droughts or excess heat. Composed of one or more internodes on the tuber plants, the corm is often covered by thin leaves and is located just above the circular basal node that grows just above the roots of the plant.
There are two commonly used plant stems that are identified as corms. Taro is an example of a corm root that hails from several Polynesian cultures and is commonly used as a root vegetable in a number of dishes. Considered one of the earliest known cultivated plants in the region, taro cannot be eaten raw. There are two factors that make taro inedible in its natural state. First, the sharp raphides in the corm itself make the consistency of the raw plant touch and unpleasant. Second, raw taro has a high level of toxicity. However, boiling the plant stems after peeling away the leaves destroys the toxins and makes the tubers edible. Taro is usually sold in frozen form, or as a canned good.
A second corm favorite is the Chinese water chestnut. This type of corm is generally tube shaped and has a white flesh that features a crispy consistency. Unlike taro, Chinese water chestnuts can be consumed in the raw state. Depending on the recipe, water chestnuts can be boiled, grilled or even pickled. It is also possible to sweeten the chestnuts and consume the sliced versions as a snack. One popular application is dry Chinese water chestnuts and grind the corm into flour that can be used the water chestnut cakes that are considered part of Chinese dim sum cuisine.
Various types of corms can often be found in specialty food stores that feature selections of international packaged foods, as well as food supplies who specialize in Polynesian or Chinese food products. As an addition to stir fry recipes or as an ingredient in vegetable casseroles or cold salads, the corm can add another layer of flavor and texture to a number of recipes.