Updated date:

Vegetarian Laing (Filipino Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk)

As a child, Edwin's mom told him, "If you want to eat, you should cook it yourself." And that's exactly what he's been doing ever since.

Ginataang dahon ng gabi (taro leaves simmered in coconut milk)

Ginataang dahon ng gabi (taro leaves simmered in coconut milk)

What Is Laing?

Laing is a dish from the Bicol region of the Philippines. It's a bit like Western-style creamed spinach, except it's made from dried taro leaves (gabi in Tagalog, pronounced "gabby"). Yes, this is the same plant used by Hawaiians to make poi, which is made using the root of the taro.

Laing is simmered in coconut milk (gata in Tagalog) and is usually cooked with pork and/or shrimp. But this recipe is the vegetarian version so we omitted the meat. Since the people in the Bicol region like spicy foods, this dish traditionally contains chili peppers.

Taro (gabi) plants

Taro (gabi) plants

Dried taro leaves

Dried taro leaves

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

40 min

50 min

6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces dried gabi or taro leaves, available at Asian stores
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 6 cups canned coconut milk
  • 1 chili pepper, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat and saute the garlic and onions for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add 4 cups of coconut milk to the pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and add the dried taro leaves. Simmer for 20 minutes. Do not stir.
  4. Add the remaining coconut milk and the chili peppers and stir. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes, or until the leaves are tender.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Variations

  • Spiciness: Omit the chili peppers for a non-spicy dish.
  • Meat option: Add your favorite meat, such as pork or shrimp.
  • Fermented shrimp paste: For an authentic Filipino flavor, add fermented shrimp paste (available at Asian stores) to the coconut milk.
  • Ginger: Add sliced ginger while sauteeing the garlic and onions if desired.

Coconut Milk

Comments

Edwin Alcantara (author) from California on October 19, 2020:

Yes, Sp. It's pretty rare. Unless you grow your own taro in the backyard, the only way I can get some is through our local Asian store. But you can also order it online.

Edwin Alcantara (author) from California on October 19, 2020:

Yes, Lakshmi, it's another green leafy vegetable you can add to your grocery list.

Edwin Alcantara (author) from California on October 19, 2020:

Thanks Peggy. I didn't know that you could eat the leaves before either.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on October 19, 2020:

Nice to see a dish with cocunt milk. So glad you also mentioned where you can buy the leaves for this dish. At least people in other countries can check those stores for them.

Lakshmi from Chennai on October 19, 2020:

The recipe looks healthy and something unique.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 18, 2020:

It is always fun learning about different food preparations. I had heard of using taro roots but did not know that the leaves were edible or available dried. Thanks for your recipe.