Laing – An authentic dish from the Bicol region, The Philippines

Laing – An authentic dish from the Bicol region, The Philippines

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Originally popularized from the Bicol Region is the dish called “Laing” (La – Ing). It consists of the taro leaves and coconut milk. Visually, unappealing but once you tasted it, you will ask for more.
The taro leaf from the taro plant looks like an elephant ear and is about 2 to 3 feet wide and long. These leaves are shred out from its veins so as not to have that itchy sensation in the mouth when you eat it. Its veins are said to contribute to the itchy sensation when not remove. The stem of this taro vegetable is also cooked together with the leaves and the coconut milk. Some want to dry the leaves first before cooking it in the coconut milk but some cooks it even from its fresh picked.

Cooking this dish requires extra patience for it is perfectly cooked when using low heat. Stirring while cooking is strictly prohibited as it may also cause itching sensation in the mouth and tongue.
Like any preserved food, this dish when cooked in the right way, may taste even better as time goes by. Well, just don’t make it too long. Yes, refrigerating it for one or two days may even taste better. I won’t advise 3 days or more, though, as it has the coconut milk which might get too bad serious in your stomach.
Lastly, when you prepare this dish, be sure to have a volume of hot rice as you’ll have two or more plates of it.
To make this Laing recipe, here is one version which I often use:

Ingredients:

• Taro leaves – shredded from its veins
• Taro stem – cleanly cut
• Coconut milk (first and second extraction )
• Pork belly (fats)
• Chili (long green)
• Garlic
• Onion
• Ginger
• Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

1. In a large pot, put together pork belly fat, dried fish, garlic, onion, ginger, coconut milk (second extraction). Add the taro stems.
2. Simmer in low heat until taro stems becomes soft and the water evaporates.
3. Add the taro leaves.
4. Add in the coconut milk (first extraction). Simmer under low heat until liquid dries out.
5. Put the green long chili. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 3 minutes.
6. Then, it is ready to serve.

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/// Written by Rosemarie Ramos, The Philippines