IN the Philippines, Bicolanos are known for their talent in the kitchen. Also known as lovers of chili, Bicolanos are famous for having a high tolerance in eating and making hot dishes. With Bicol having lots of coconut trees, the use of coconut milk in almost every delicacy has become a Bicolano distinction. Gabi or taro leaves are also very abundant in the Bicol region.
Some of the dishes that they are most proud includes the famous Bicol Express, which is pork cooked in coconut, shrimp paste and chili peppers. Their love for gabi leaves led them to make the Laing or the Pinangat.
Laing is made up essentially of dried and shredded taro leaves, bits of meat or shrimp paste, generous amount of red chillies, ginger, garlic, and onion cooked in coconut milk. Bicolanos consider cooking the ingredients steadily in coconut cream because stirring it can also make the throat itchy. It is advised not to use fresh taro leaves because of the belief that the leaves and stalk of fresh taro leaves can also cause itchiness in the throat.
To dry the taro leaves, natives hang it dry before being using them as ingredients.
When it comes to shredding taro leaves, Bicolanos do not use knives but opt to use their hands when tearing the leaves apart. Filipinos in the US need not fret if they do not have taro leaves in their backyard. There are ready-to-cook taro leaves available in Filipino stores that are packed in plastic bags. The meat is also optional for the diet conscious. But if meat is desired, it must also be diced into small pieces. Because of the pungent and lingering smell of the shrimp paste, fish sauce are used as substitute instead.
Laing partnered with steaming rice will surely be a hit in any table fare.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes
• 3 oz Dried Taro leaves
• 1/4 lb Pork liempo
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 pc onion, minced
• 1 tbsp ginger, chopped
• 3 tbsp Bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
• 2 cans coconut milk, 14 oz each can
• 2 pcs Red chilli pepper
• 1 pc Knorr cubes
• Saute pork, onion, garlic, ginger and shrimp
• Add coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then add
shredded taro leaves.
• Do not stir. Cover and let it simmer until pork is
Chef Dindo Riforsado
Chef Drif has a long and distinguished career in the culinary arts industry. He has worked in various upscale restaurants in Los Angeles such as La Defence Restaurant, Kado Japanese & Teppanyaki Restaurant; and Sushiko Kosher Japanese cuisine. He has mastered the art of culinary and has an extensive knowledge on a wide range of International cuisines. Currently, he is a Private Chef catering to private parties and events.