Labong is a Filipino vegetable common in rural areas but not very common in the cities. Labong is the bamboo shoot, the young bamboo stalks that are not yet tough and are still edible. Our Asian neighbors are also fond of this young bamboo and the bamboo shoot can be found on several Asian recipes. It can be pickled, or just stir-fried with pork.
I always associated Labong (Bamboo Shoots) with Ilocano Food. My Ilocano father (who avoided coconut cream like a plague) would always volunteer to cook when there’s Labong in the house, and so it was always Dinengdeng na Labong na May Saluyot and Pritong Isda. My mother, a Southern Tagalog belle by heart never cooked much when my father is around. So I wasn’t really exposed to Ginataang Labong until later in life. Which is weird since I grew up under the palm of coconut fronds, so to speak.
Anyway, to make the long story short, our neighbor brought these fresh labong over and since we happened to have shrimps, I decided to make Ginataang Labong With Shrimps.
Unlike the canned ones, fresh labong is a bit hard to prepare. Bamboo shoots require skilled care as they contain may toxins and are quite bitter if not prepared properly. First, you have to cut them really thin. (I used a mandoline slicer) Then you have to leave it on the water to soak overnight. The next day, you will have to boil it and then squeeze it dry. All these to remove the “dagta” or bitter sap. You can probably skip the overnight soaking but that’s how my mom did it, and haven’t questioned it.
If you’re looking for something different to serve on your table, try this Filipino dish. It’s hearty, creamy, and