I decided my taro plant is ripe for harvesting. The plant was from a corm I obtained from an Asian store. This member of the potato family is called many names in different places. The most famous variety is the Hawaiian taro. In the Philippines, it is known as gabi. In the Caribbean countries, it is called malanga. And yet in other places like Japan and India, it is known as eddoe.
I know that in the Philippines, the leaves and stalks are eaten as well and in Hawaiian cooking, meat or fish are wrapped and cooked in taro leaves. I have never learned to cook the gabi leaves and so I posted to my Facebook friends and asked for suggestions as to what to do with the leaves. Apparently, there are two schools of thought on the matter: one is to cook the leaves and stalks when fresh and the other, is to dry them first. Only one friend, who hails from the Bicol region which I believe is the home of this dish gave a detailed instructions on how to prepare the fresh leaves. A good number of friends, said that the leaves should be dried.
To seize the opportunity, I decided to try to cook them fresh first. I’ll try the dried ones, the next harvest time.
- 10 stalks of gabi or taro
- 2 cans of coconut milk. But since I was out of canned coconut milk, I extracted the cream from freshly grated coconut that I keep in the freezer. I extracted a total of 2 cups of liquid.
- 1 T sliced garlic
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 T thin strips of fresh ginger. My ginger also came from my garden.
- fresh hot peppers.
- 3 T fish sauce. I decided to make it a vegetarian dish so that it can be eaten as a side dish to fish or meat. Everyone suggested to sauté with either smoked fish or pork.
- 1 t oil
- Peel the stalks and cut into 1 inch pieces
- Cut the leaves in small pieces, about 1/2 inch squares
- Heat the oil in a pan, stir fry the garlic, ginger and onions for about 3 minutes enough to release the aroma of the garlic and ginger.
- Add the taro leaves and stalks, coconut milk and fish sauce. Cover and bring to boil.
- Lower the heat. Simmer to slowly cook the leaves. Check and stir once in a while to make sure that the bottom is not burning.
- Cook until the coconut oil is rendered. This takes a good hour.
- Add the hot pepper any time you desire to control the spiciness.
The resulting dish resembles creamed spinach. The taste, non of that bite on the throat that everyone says would result when the leaves are not dried first. This dish was never prepared in our home in the Philippines. I probably ate this no more than 3 times in my entire life. So I can’t be an expert on this dish.
But my laing is tasty. We just had it for lunch as a side to grilled fish.