I have made laing (stewed taro leaves with coconut cream/oil) several times in the past few weeks. Not the healthiest of vegetable dishes, but utterly delicious nonetheless. My dad’s dad was from Bicol, my dad loved chili, but my mom wasn’t fond of spicy dishes, so we never had laing at home when I was growing up… I only learned to eat it as an adult. At any rate, I had heard on several occasions from several sources that the furled and extremely tender leaves of taro were the “creme de la creme” of ingredients for this wonderful dish. The problem was, I hadn’t noticed them for sale in Manila markets until last weekend…
I was so happy to find these bunches of taro leaves that I bought all 5 bundles from the vendor at the FTI market for say PHP30 per bundle. Back at home, I photographed my “ingredient find of the day” for this post.
The taro leaves were smaller, a lighter green, incredibly supple and still naturally curled (furled) up. While the vendor and a Bicolano relative (who I called to ask) explained that the unfurled leaves didn’t need to be dried, I put them out under the hot sun for 20 minutes anyway… Taro leaves have oxalic acid that can bother/mildly poison some folks, but heat exposure to the sun and cooking seems to eliminate the risk.
So did I manage to take full advantage of this spectacular ingredient by cooking up and serving a phenomenal bowl of laing? Or did I screw up the delicate leaves and kick myself with regret? You’ll have to wait for the next post to see… :)