Filipino Cuisine is from different groups and tribes in the Philippines, displaying their culture, tradition, and indigenous ingredients. They love to enrich their food with ingredients that represent their origins in their local palate.
There are many cuisines and recipes you could explore and try to eat here in the Philippines. Begin with the exotic foods, meat recipes, fish, and green leafy menus, including the very well known Laing.
In this feature, we would like to show and share what laing is, the different ways to cook it, its variants, and how to cook the best laing in town!
So, grab your scratch and pen! Let's dive into one of the most famous Filipino cuisines known for its rich, creamy, and healthy dish.
What is Laing (Dried Taro Leaves With Coconut Milk Sauce)
Laing recipe is a stew-type Filipino well-known dish in the Bicol region and commonly known as pinangat. It is a combination of whole or shredded Taro leaves with seafood or meat cooked in creamy coconut milk spiced with garlic, lemongrass, ginger, shallots, labuyo chili, and shrimp paste.
Many Filipinos referred to this dish as Ginataang taro leaf. It is also particularly served as a side dish to a meat dish.
The leaves used in it, Taro or also known as gabi, must be correctly and properly prepared. It contains raphides of calcium oxalate crystals, causing a burning sensation and itching in the mouth.
Commonly, this dish from the Bicol region has its version of cooking it by mixing all the ingredients and spices. They wrap it with the taro leaf and tie with twine or coconut leaf midrib, then steam in gata or coconut milk along with lemongrass or tanglad until it is fork-tender and the mixture becomes thick and creamy.
Ways to Cook The Best Laing Recipes
Are you looking for different ways and techniques to cook this amazing dish? Don't worry. We listed some ways to cook it for your convenience.
Boiling is a technique you could use in cooking taro leaf in gata. Prepare the water in a pot and casserole before putting in all the ingredients of the recipe. Pre-heat it along with the vegetables, if and only if the vegetables you use are hard to cook. But if the vegetables like dried taro leaf, you don't need to boil it for less than half an hour.
Turn on the low heat. Instead of the great amount of water used in boiling, you could put the coconut milk or kakang gata as a substitute to the water. You could then add all the ingredients, mix it well, and boil it for a few minutes.
Steaming is another method of cooking a certain dish. It differs from boiling since you boil it with water or with gata. Instead of cooking it in a casserole or a pot, you must have a vented container or basket to use as the cooking pan of this method.
It is the traditional way of Bicolanos to cook their beloved laing dish. They wrapped all the ingredients, tied it with twine or coco leaf midrib, then steamed it in gata or coconut milk with lemongrass until the mixture became thick and the leaf was fork-tender.
Sauteing is another way of cooking the taro leaf in a gata dish. You may use olive oil, cocoa oil, or vegetable oil in this cooking method. It is the technique of cooking used in Manila.
Instead of the whole taro leaf, they shredded the leaf and included the leaf stalks. Then, they sauteed dried taro leaf and stalks with onion, ginger, garlic, shallots, labuyo chili, lemongrass, shrimp paste, and coconut milk in a pot, casserole, or large-sized pan.
Other Delicious Variations and Recipes of Dried Taro Leaves
Different variations of a certain dish would help you to enrich your knowledge about different ingredients. So, here are some variants of this dish you could experiment on to create a good dish.
Best Laing with river crab
Laing with river crab, also known as inulukan in Bicol, is a variant of taro leaf in gata recipes that used the meat of river crabs and then wrapped the whole taro leaves. They cook it in coconut milk with black pepper, calamansi, and lemongrass.
Aside from its famous name inulukan or inulokan, they called it pinangat na talangka or pinangat na ugama. talangka and ugama are the other local terms used for river crabs. It is a specialty recipe in Camalig, Albay.
Dried Taro Leaves With freshwater shrimp and grated coconut meat
It is another variant of the laing dish, which is also known as linapay or tinamuk. It is a dish related to the dish from Aklan in the Western Visayas region.
It is a dish made from pounded freshwater shrimp mixed with grated cocoa meat and wrapped with the trio leaves. They cook it in coconut milk and wait until the mixture becomes thick.
Dried Taro Leaves with fish flakes
This dish is another variation of traditional Laing from Bicol, also known as Tinumok or tinulmok.
It uses the whole taro leaves to wrap all the mixture or fish flakes, freshwater shrimp, shrimp paste with minced coconut meat, onions, garlic, chilis, lemongrass, and other spices cooked in the gata or coconut milk.
We know that errors in cooking could occur at the most unexpected time. Thus, we want you to enjoy your cooking journey, so we prepare some troubleshooting solutions if you encounter some cooking.
- Taro leaves have raphides of calcium oxalate crystals, causing a burning sensation and itching in the mouth. So, you could wash and clean the leaves first.
- Drying the leaves could be the better solution to eliminate itching and burning sensation feeling to the mouth when you eat it.
- There are two ways of eliminating the itchiness in the Taro fresh leaves. First is cooking it in a liquid that dilutes the toxins. Second is cooking it for a long time, for at least 45 minutes, to break down the plant cells, then the toxins that cause the leaf to be itchy when you eat it.
Did you know that the usually shredded leaves of Taro in the laing dish are not the original or classic? This version is from Manila.
They created a version of this menu since not all city people would love to eat the whole taro leaf originally wrapped, and all the ingredients are inside that leaf. Professional chefs enhance the dish to make it more presentable and appealing to the eyes of the customers.
In Bicol Region where laing originated, they call it pinangat, which makes the people in the north confused with the famous pinangat na isda, which fish cooked in slightly sour taste broth similar to sinigang. That is why, instead of pinangat, they call it laing.
Knowledge about cooking different varieties of cuisines is necessary to make the most out of it. Thus, listing the insights of how you should cook a recipe would probably help you to enhance and enrich the featured dish to make its flavor succulent, delicate, and bold.
- Before you start cooking the cuisine, make sure that you prepare all your ingredients to make it more convenient.
- Make sure that the ingredients are properly clean and wash before cooking it.
- If you are about to use taro leaves, you don't need to boil it for a few minutes. You could put it along with the other ingredients since it is easy to cook.
- However, if you want to use Taro's fresh leaves, make sure you clean and wash it carefully.
- Do not often open the lid of the pot or casserole to cook the dish perfectly.
Best Serve With
These creamy, salty, savory, and a delicate featured dish should serve with other top dishes that would make it stand out when you eat it. Here are some recipes that surely enrich, respect, and elevate the featured dish's flavor and taste.
- Hot-steamed rice - is a very common food that usually chooses to pair up with any dish, including these recipes. It makes the featured recipe stand out.
- Camaron Rebosado - is a seafood cuisine that perfectly works with the dish. It complemented the creamy, saucy, and savory taste of the dish.
- Pork Belly Chicharron - when you have a vegetable dish on a side, pork is one of the most side dishes you could serve because it would eliminate the ampalaya dish's bitter taste.
- Roast beef - the taro recipe is perfect with this traditional roast meat because it enriches the vegetable dish's flavor.
- Fried Tilapia- is a fish dish that is usually and normally served at home with a vegetable dish. Its salt-savory taste gives a bold flavor with the complemented dish.
- Banana Pudding - is a delicate and sweet dessert that is great to eat with the dish since its flavor complimented the taste of the featured dish
- Sweetened Saba Banana - is a dessert that is usually perfect with vegetable cuisines because of its succulent and rich flavor that compliments the featured dish.
- Alpahor na Kamote - is a dessert that is sweet and creamy. It has a delicate flavor that suits very well with the featured dish.
- Pineapple juice - is another beverage that is good to pair up with the dish. It eliminates the loathing taste, which makes the dish stand out.
- Grilled pork belly - Aside from pork belly chicharron, another dish that could surely complement the featured dish is the grilled pork belly.
- Inihaw na pusit - seafood dish is perfect to pair up with a vegetable dish. It makes the dish stand out.
Cooking this kind of dish is easy since it has a small number of ingredients to mix up. You could purchase all the ingredients and spices in the market today.
Elevating a traditional and classic dish would result in a much tastier and another level of featuring the dish. That is why we listed all the insights, information, and cooking techniques to help you make the most out of the featured dish.
So, let's try to cook this dish! There is no mistake in cooking. Keep trying, and you could have a great dish you could serve with your family, loved ones, and friends.
For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!
- 1 lb Taro leaves
- 2 cups Coconut milk
- 3 ½ cups Water
- 4 cloves Garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 pc Onion diced
- 1 tablespoon Cooking oil
- 2 thumbs Ginger cut into strips
- 3 pcs Long green chilies
- 1 cup Pork cut into strips
- Boil 3 cups of water in a casserole.
- Put-in the taro leaves and stem then cook for 5 minutes.
- Then, remove the leaves and stem from the casserole, and set aside the broth.
- In another pan, heat oil. Once hot, fry the pork until brown. Then push the pork on one side of the pan.
- In the same pan, saute garlic and onion until brown. Then add the ginger and stir together with the pork.
- Season with salt and ½ cup of water, then boil for 10 minutes.
- Then pour-in coconut milk and stir until it boils.
- Add the boiled taro leaves and stem, then gently push the leaves down so that it can absorb more coconut milk. Cook for another 30 minutes.
- Add the red chilies. Stir. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Serve.