Growing up, laing is not one of my most favorite food. I grew up in Marinduque, an island province in Southern Tagalog Region of the Philippines. We have an abundance of gabi – yam leaves, and coconut in our yard. Naturally, this dish is part of our diet almost weekly because it’s free.
My mother used to put either fresh seafood, cheap sardines fish, or balaw – the small shrimps. Sometimes, when she have some extra money, she’d add in cans of sardines (the irony hahaha!). No, really, that’s how it is in the province. I grew up thinking that the canned sardines was somehow more special than the fresh fish.
All that to say that this laing recipe is not really new to me. It’s a common dish in the Southern Tagalog region, with Bicol commonly mentioned as the origin of the dish.
So when Chef Jessie presented it at the Culinary Elite Cooking Class at the Maya Kitchen, I was a bit curious how she will present the laing to become an “elegant” part of her Filipino Christmas Menu since this is just common food for a lot of us. I was not disappointed – the presentation was great! I was also inspired and now, I always think of creative ways of presenting Filipino food in the table. You can definitely add this recipe to your Pinoy Christmas table and your guests will not be disappointed.
Chef Jessie’s Laing was just how we make it with the oil almost separating from the coconut milk. I loved the addition of liempo – something I have not tried before. It brought another layer of creaminess to the laing apart from the sweetish taste of coconut milk.
I wishes it was a bit spicier though – if it was me, I would add about 10 pieces of siling labuyo. On the recipe she only added 5, If I remember correctly. So add chili as you want. One curious thing however, is that Chef Jessie stirred her gabi right after cooking. I grew up cooking it with the admonition to never ever stir the gabi when it is still cooking in the kakang gata (the first part of the coconut milk), or else it will be “itchy” in the mouth. So now I’m wondering if its just an old wives tale, haha!