Any good Bicolano knows his Laing and that’s one of the things that the Royol Blood has passed down to our generation. A dish that is continuously evolving, my Uncle Monching’s and the Senior’s (that would be my Dad) take are the most straight forward and I’d say the most effective in retaining the authenticity and character of this symbolic viand.
Known to be from the Araceae family (Arum family or Aroid), this plant contains toxins that need to be cooked out to prevent the itchy texture in your mouth and throat. Most Google search results say to cook for atleast 45 minutes over low fire. Which is perfect for the traditional laing dish calls for lots of coconut milk and you would want to reduce the liquid until its character finally stands out. It usually takes atleast an hour and a half to get the right feel but ofcourse, it depends on the volume of coconut milk you put in.
Below are the steps – and since ours is a one-pot approach, this should be relatively easy!
- 250g dries taro leaves
- 350g fresh grated coconut
- 180g pork meat (I use the cheapest cut like pork face)
- 150g dried salted fish (white bisugo)
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 3 tbsp of grated ginger
- 1 onion
- 1/2 cup Bagoong Balayan
- 2 liters of warm water
- Green and red chillies
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- Salt and pepper
- In a large bowl, place grated coconut and add 1 cup of warm water. Squeeze a couple of times then finally extract the coconut milk using a strainer – set aside the first batch of coconut milk or kakang gata. Repeat process with the remaining water then pour directly into your cooking vessel (pot, large dutch oven or even a pressure cooker) *Always use fresh coconut for best result
- Wash and squeeze the Taro leaves - place in your cooking vessel.
- Place only half of the fish paste sauce (bagoong isda) – use the rest if you need to adjust the seasoning. Add crushed garlic cloves, sliced onion and grated ginger.
- Place pork meat and whole dried salted fish. I prefer to use the fatty parts of the pig for flavour and make sure to cut your pork meat in large portions if you plan on devouring them later on. Also, I would suggest placing your dried fish whole so you can use the fish bones for added essence. You can just take them out once it’s all cooked. You can also wash them first to rinse some of the salt so you would have better control.
- Cover and cook over low fire for 1 ½ hours – regularly checking and stirring to prevent the bottom from scorching.
- Add kakang gata, brown sugar and chopped chillies. Simmer for another 30 minutes or until preferred reduction is achieved then check seasoning. Adjust using fish paste sauce, salt and pepper.