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[Recipe] Laing (Taro leaves in coconut milk)

Laing is a very simple dish made from gabi (taro) leaves cooked in gata (coconut milk). Those are the 2 main ingredients of this dish. The rest of the ingredients just add flavor (pampalasa) or additional optional components (sahog) and in fact can be substituted with others. This particular recipe uses hibe (dried shelled shrimps) and dilis (dried Stolephorus commersonii) as additional ingredients. The dish is originally from the Bicol region of the Philippines. Usually, the dishes in that region have more heat compared to other regions in the country but you can adjust that by choosing what type of chili to use and the amount. Optionally, you can also include cuts of pork and taro in the dish.

1 pack of dried gabi leaves (taro leaves), roughly 400g
2 boxes of gata (coconut milk) - 1 box is 200ml
5 pcs of siling labuyo (more if you want more heat), chopped
1 head of garlic, minced
1 medium sized onion (finely chopped)
2 Tablespoons bagoong (fermented shrimp paste)
1/2 cup hibe (dried shelled shrimps)
1/2 cup dilis (dried Stolephorus commersonii)  
1 fish bouillon cube (dissolved in one cup water to make stock)

In a medium saucepan, fry the dilis until they are crispy. Set aside. Do the same with the hibe and similarly set aside after frying. Saute the garlic, chilies, and onions until slightly caramelized followed by the bagoong. Pour in the coconut milk and the fish stock and bring it to a boil. Place the dried taro leaves in the pan lowering the heat and let it simmer with a covered lid. Let the liquid be absorbed by the dried leaves. Do not stir. The leaves will eventually turn a darker color. This will take roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Check the texture of the leaves. They should be soft. After properly cooked, top off with the fried dilis and hibe. Serve with freshly steamed rice. 

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