One of Our Family’s Favorite Vegetable Dish – Laing
I’ve granted guest post authors to contribute on several occasions. These ladies who shared their stories and recipes have helped this blog a lot in terms of having fresh material and information for those who love to cook and eat Filipino and non-Filipino dishes. I thank you for your contributions and I hope more authors will pitch in with their favorite recipes and food adventures.
But being busy is no excuse for not posting my own material and since I am missing this dish, I think it’s time to write down the recipe.
Among our favorite Filipino vegetable dish is Laing. This dish originated in the Bicol Region and it is very delicious and spicy.
Like many of the Filipino dishes, laing may have different variations. Some cooks use dilis (local dried salty anchovy) to flavor this dish, while others use alamang (salted shrimp paste). In our household, we use alamang because it is less ‘fishy’ and it tastes better, in my opinion.
I’ve heard a couple of stories behind the reason why some folks cannot perfect laing. This dish can cause the tongue and mouth to itch if the taro leaves are not prepared accordingly. And the myths and legends of the ‘ itchy laing ‘ sprung from this fact. I’ve heard one from an elder that one should cook this dish without ever speaking to anyone, or else the spell will be broken and whoever eats it will suffer an itchy mouth. Another myth is to leave the cook alone in the kitchen – kids and pets are not allowed, and talkative folks are also off limits. Same reason and spell if the other people in the household will not abide by the rule.
I guess these myths are made up by the folks who are not from Bicol Region because I haven’t heard any Bicolano telling these stories. But this myth is busted and there’s really no secret to keeping the itch away. It’s in the preparation of the taro leaves, so make sure to ask the seller if they were cleaned and good to go.
Here’s our version of Laing.
1 kilo fresh prepared taro leaves (these are sold in packs, already cleaned and coarsely chopped; it’s possible to find these in local markets; saves you time and worries) — others use dried leaves, but they take more time to cook
3-5 medium-sized taro root sliced into bite-sized wedges
minced: garlic, onion, and ginger (use approx. 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of each)
alamang (to taste; around 2-3 tablespoons)
ground or finely chopped pork
chopped chili pepper (siling labuyo) — it’s up to you if you want it spicy or too spicy
coconut cream and coconut mik
water for boiling the taro leaves
salt to taste (optional)
Boil the cleaned taro leaves in a pot of water, until tender. Drain the cooking water and set aside.
Saute the minced garlic, onion, and ginger in oil. Add chili pepper and alamang. Cook for a minute or two before adding the pork. After a couple of minutes, add the coconut milk. Once the coconut milk is simmering, add the cooked taro leaves and boil for a few minutes. Add coconut cream and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and simmer for a few more minutes until the coconut milk/cream reduces.
*Note: make sure to taste the laing while it is cooking in coconut milk. If it lacks saltiness, add a bit more alamang or salt.
*Tip: Laing tastes better the day after. Make sure to keep it in the freezer in the afternoon of the day of cooking to keep its freshness.
Hah! I just heard my mom saying “we’ll cook laing this weekend“. She must have read my mind while I’m writing this. =) Wish granted!