One thing that I miss dearly from my trip to the Philippines is the homemade vegan fare that my aunties would cook for me. Contrary to one might think, my family in the Philippines did not question my vegan lifestyle. In fact, they cooked vegan dishes for me! With the availability of local ingredients that Filipino dishes call for, as well as my aunties’ skills in Filipino home cooking, I was in for a treat.
My aunties would cook dishes like vegan pancit, vegetable stir-fry, puto bumbong, sampaloc candy (from scratch!), and my favorite: Laing.
Laing (pronounced La-ing), is a creamy curry made of taro leaves cooked in coconut milk with spicy notes of garlic, ginger, onions, and pepper. Sometimes it’s cooked with pork and shrimp paste, and sometimes it’s meatless. Both are traditional versions.
If you love the taste of coconut milk in curries, then you should definitely try Laing. Taro leaves and coconut milk are a perfect combination. It’s very simple and easy to make: just saute the ingredients, pour the coconut milk, add the taro leaves, and let it simmer until the leaves have softened and absorbed the flavors of the ingredients. And as most curries, Laing is best enjoyed with a side dish namely steamed rice.
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes
- Half package (1.5 oz) of dried taro leaves (available at most Asian grocery stores)
- 2 cans or 11.2 oz coconut milk
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger, julienned
- 4-6 Thai chili (depending on how spicy you want)
- 2 tbsp black bean garlic sauce (available at most grocery stores)
- 3 tbsp. coconut oil
- sea salt to taste
- I used coconut oil instead of regular cooking oil to make the Laing tastier with the good fats of coconut oil.
- When simmering, do NOT stir the taro leaves. Just keep it under lowest heat so the bottom won’t burn.
- Instead of shrimp paste or bagoong, I used black bean garlic sauce which is available at most grocery stores.
- To garnish, I added thin slices of carrots on top to have a pop of color, but the traditional way is to use long green peppers. Or you could go without any of them and serve as is. Laing is best enjoyed with a side of rice.
Saute the garlic in coconut oil until fragrant. Add the onions, tomatoes, and ginger. Saute for another 5 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and black bean garlic sauce. Let it boil.
Add the taro leaves and pepper. Let it simmer under low heat. Do not stir. Simmer for about 40-45 minutes until the leaves have softened and absorbed almost all of the coconut milk.
*Gently* stir and add salt to taste. Add more black bean sauce to taste. Simmer for another minute or two. Turn off the heat, serve, and enjoy!
This post is dedicated to my aunties who made me feel special during my stay in the Philippines. I hope my Laing version would make them proud!