Contrary to its name in Martinique, chou de Chine (Chinese cabbage) in Martinique, it is not from China but from Indonesia and Malaysia. Then, it spread to Central and South Asia and Southeast Asia. In 100 BC, it was grown in China and Egypt then arrived in Africa 2,000 years ago. This is of slave ships from Africa that is imported to the Caribbean where he became one of the food eaten by the slaves in their gardens. It is during the period of colonization that dasheen would have happened in Martinique.
The number of varieties is unknown. The dasheen is an elongated or rounded tuber whose the shape and size are reminiscent of those of celeriac. It is brown on the outside but the flesh is white or gray.
Its growth cycle is from 8 to 18 months. The plant requires a moist, shaded soil. It is often grown on the edge of swamp forests. Its propagation is done naturally from lateral stems. The roots develop and the main axis increases, is the edible part of the plant.
Dasheen is rich in carbohydrates and starch (30 to 33% of its composition). Transforming itself gradually, starch supplied energy but provides little oily material. This food helps diversify our eating habits and meets the recommendations of dieticians.
In Martinique, it is cut into pieces and cooked in salted boiled water after peeled. It goes well with various dishes based on meat and local fish. It is also used to make gratins, soufflés or purees.
It is not consumable raw as it is bitter and irritating because of the presence of calcium oxalate crystals.
Dasheen should be eaten quickly after being harvested for its conservation is very delicate.
Its leaves heart-shaped, in the composition of a West Indian traditional dish, the soup z'habitants which is a very thick soup made of dasheen leaves.