For people who have never had Filipino Laing before, the texture is similar to creamed spinach with meat. But don’t be fooled, I’d be downplaying it if I said it tasted like it... The flavor is nothing like it - it’s SO MUCH MORE.
It’s seriously one of my all-time favorite Filipino dishes! This Laing recipe is rich, creamy, and spicy. You have morsels of golden crisped pork belly, smoky taro leaves, and creamy coconut whipped all together with spicy chilies. It’s full of Filipino goodness!
What is Laing?
Filipino Laing is made of sauteed bits of pork, dried taro leaves soaked in coconut milk, and spicy chilies. It’s divine and decadent.
This authentic Filipino recipe always makes me think of my grandma. She knew how much I loved this dish and would make it for my birthday, graduation, and the holidays.
She originally made it the old school way: using fresh taro leaves, which are waterproof. So she’d wipe each leaf individually by hand to clean them before cooking. Needless to say, it was time-consuming, but later discovered an even better way of cooking her Laing recipe: using dried taro leaves!
Using dried taro leaves is much more accessible, plus it makes a creamier Laing because it absorbs the coconut milk much better.
Cooking Filipino Laing with Dried Taro Leaves
- Where Can You Find Them?
- Dried taro leaves can be found at Asian markets (I found that my local Seafood City always has them in stock!). I’ll be honest, they aren’t going to be the most appetizing-looking ingredient. They kind of look like dried weed … which, I guess can either excite you or turn you away LOL. Either way, they’re SO good once cooked up!
- Preparing Them
- They’ll have a slightly smoky scent since they’ve been dried and tend to clump together. Separate any large chunks by hand to make them easier to cook. I read that using a steel knife to chop them can cause a chemical reaction that could alter the flavor of the taro leaves, though I’ve never done this myself. It’s not too difficult to separate them by hand, so no need to dirty a knife anyway!
- Cooking Them
- Allow the leaves to SLOWLY absorb the coconut milk. Patience is key! Once you’ve added the dried taro leaves on top of the coconut milk, it’s tempting to stir the pan - but don’t. Let the coconut milk and taro leaves work their magic. Only once the taro leaves have softened and submerged in the coconut milk should you stir it.
Because this dish is so creamy, it definitely needs some acid to help break it up. I highly recommend serving this Filipino Laing with a side of vinegar (with chili if you like extra heat) with rice. There’s no other way to do it!
- ½ pound pork belly cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 ½ ounces dried taro leaves gently separated
- 2 ½ cups coconut milk
- ¼ cup bagoong Filipino shrimp paste
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger peeled & sliced
- ½ medium onion finely diced
- 3 - 5 Thai chilies thinly sliced, (adjust to your spice level)
Chili Vinegar For Serving:
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 1 - 2 Thai chilies thinly sliced
- In a small bowl, combine vinegar and Thai chili. Set aside. Gently separate any large chunks of dried taro leaves by hand, then set aside.
- Heat a large skillet on high. Add pork belly into skillet to sear get a nice browning. Don’t overcrowd the pan, work in batches if needed. Meat doesn’t need to cook all the way through since it’ll finish cooking in the coconut milk. Set aside.
- Drain excess oil from pan, leaving about a tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add onions and ginger into pan. Sautee until onions begin to soften. Add in garlic and cook for a few seconds, until soft and fragrant. Stir in bagoong and cook for a few seconds. Add pork belly back in and mix until meat is well coated.
- Pour in coconut milk. Add in dried taro leaves and reduce heat to medium heat. Let taro leaves slowly absorb coconut milk, occasionally pushing down leaves gently into the coconut milk. This will take about 15 - 20 minutes. Once coconut milk is completely absorbed, stir to ensure all leaves completely soft. The consistency should be creamy and soft, similar to creamed spinach with no stiff or crunchy leaves. Serve with rice and chili vinegar on the side, if desired.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and provided for informational purposes. Nutrition may vary based on product availability, methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients, etc. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.