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06 August 2009


Laing is a simple yet delicious veggie dish that comes from Bicol where coconut and spices take a starring role in cooking. Laing is made from gabi (taro) leaves and coconut milk as primary ingredients. Laing is also inherently spicy, but in our case my wife did not crush nor chop the pepper so they can also enjoy this dish. We are also accustomed with having bits of pork with our laing but you can skip this and go directly to sauteing the onion and garlic. Laing is served with rice (couldn't imagine having this by itself!)

Laing is a bit tricky to make because a certain preparation is made with the taro leaves. Done the wrong way and you get a batch that's itchy on the tongue. However, we learned from the book "Memories of Philippine Kitchens" that dried leaves actually do not possess the crystals coating the leaves that cause the itchiness, and dried leaves do not disintegrate during cooking the way fresh leaves do. Isn't that handy? We found a pack of dried gabi leaves in the Asian store so Laing it is for dinner!

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 teaspoon cooking oil
50g dried taro leaves
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 green or red chile, sliced (or not!)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tetra pack of coconut milk
some bits of pork, chopped into small pieces

Place pork pieces on frying pan with a bit of water over medium heat, mixing occasionally. The water will eventually dry up, and the meat will release its own oil. Add cooking oil to cook the meat. Place at one side of the pan when done.

Saute the onion, garlic, and chile.
Add the coconut milk and salt and bring to a simmer.
Add the leaves and when it starts to simmer, lower the heat (medium-low) and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until it thickens (this may take around 20 minutes). Add more salt for taste if needed.

Serve with hot, steaming rice. We also had some fried dried fish with vinegar to go with our laing. Yummy!

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  1. Can I used a fresh taro "gabi" leaves in preparing laing? What would be the difference between the dried and fresh leaves?

  2. Hi dotzme. Yes, you can also use fresh gabi leaves however I am not familiar with the preparation... apparently you have to do something to it so that it will not have the itchy side-effect. If you will buy from the market, ask the vendor, they will most likely have advice for you... and then share it with us! :-)