Laing: Discover the Delicious World of Variants, Cooking Tips & More

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Laing is a delicious dish native to Bicol, Philippines. It’s made up of pork belly, dried taro leaves, coconut milk, and red chili peppers. This deliciously creamy and spicy dish is perfect to serve with steamed rice or toasted bread, and can be eaten on just about any day.

Some put it at the center of the pandesal bread and eat it together with tuyo or some grilled pork.

It’s a delectable dish that’s also highly nutritious.


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Origin of laing

The Bicol region is one of the major producers of coconut crops, so it’s not surprising for them to incorporate coconut milk into their dishes.

Some of Bicol’s best ginataan dishes include Bicol Express and gising-gising. Now, we have laing, where coconut milk is also one of the primary ingredients.

Due to laing’s unique taste, it’s now known to the whole country. Whenever you travel around and visit locals, simply ask for this dish to have a bowl.

Notable Variants of Laing

Bicol Express is a local dish that is related to laing. It is a mixture of meat, coconut milk, and spices. The dish uses primarily pork, but there are also variants that use chicken or beef. The dish is spiced with chili peppers and is known for its spiciness. The dish is named after the train that runs through the Bicol region of the Philippines.

Inulukan or Inulokan

Inulukan or Inulokan is a variant of laing that uses freshwater shrimp mixed with the taro leaves. The dish is notable for its use of dried gawud or river black crabs, which are pounded and mixed with grated coconut. The dish is spiced with chili peppers and is known for its unique flavor.


Tinulmok is a specialty dish that is related to laing. The dish uses fish flakes or minced fish mixed with taro leaves. The dish is spiced with chili peppers and is known for its unique flavor. The dish differs from laing primarily in the way the taro leaves are prepared. Instead of being stir-fried, the taro leaves are wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a pot with coconut milk.


Linapay is a variant of laing that uses stemcanned or canned taro leaves. The dish is spiced with chili peppers and is known for its unique flavor. The dish is notable for its use of coconut milk, which is gently scraped from the grated coconut to prevent the curdling of the milk.

Bicol’s Best

Bicol’s Best is a variant of laing that is known for its use of meat. The dish uses primarily pork, but there are also variants that use chicken or beef. The dish is spiced with chili peppers and is known for its spiciness. The dish is named after the Bicol region of the Philippines, where it is a popular local dish.

Cooking Laing: Tips and Techniques

  • Rinse the dried taro leaves under running water to remove dirt and debris.
  • Parboil the pork until it’s tender, then discard the water.
  • Remove the fat from the pork and cut it into small pieces.
  • Remove the stems from the dried chili peppers and discard the seeds and veins.
  • Cut the chilies into small pieces.

Cooking the Laing

  • In a pot, mix the coconut milk and water and bring it to a gentle boil.
  • Add the taro leaves and stir gently to prevent them from sticking to the pot.
  • Let the leaves simmer for 15-20 minutes until they have expanded and softened.
  • Add the pork and chilies to the pot and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Adjust the spiciness by adding or decreasing the number of chili peppers.
  • To make the sauce creamier, add a packet of coconut cream towards the end of the cooking process.

Techniques to Achieve the Best Laing

  • Use freshly packed taro leaves for the best flavor.
  • Push the leaves down gently into the liquid to help them absorb the coconut milk.
  • Stir the pot occasionally to prevent the leaves from sticking to the bottom and burning.
  • Scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent the sauce from sticking and burning.
  • Check the consistency of the laing and add more water if it’s too thick.
  • Let the laing simmer for a longer time to develop a more earthy smell and flavor.
  • Serve the laing with steaming hot rice.

Storing and Reheating Laing

  • Let the laing cool down before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Reheat the laing in a pot over low heat, stirring gently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
  • Add a little water or coconut milk to the pot if the laing has become too thick.

How to Serve and Store Laing: Tips and Tricks

  • Laing is a versatile dish that can be served as a main course or as a side dish.
  • It goes well with steamed rice, grilled pork, or any protein of your choice.
  • To serve, simply pour the laing mixture into a wide dish and sprinkle some chopped onions on top for added flavor and texture.
  • Adding a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice can also help cut through the richness of the coconut milk and add a tangy kick to the dish.
  • For an extra spicy kick, top with some chopped chili peppers or chili flakes.

Substituting Ingredients

  • Laing requires a few specific ingredients, but there are some substitutions you can make if needed.
  • If you can’t find taro leaves, you can use spinach or kale as a substitute.
  • If you don’t have fresh ginger, you can use ground ginger instead.
  • If you can’t find fresh chili peppers, you can use dried chili flakes or omit them altogether.
  • However, note that these substitutions may affect the overall taste and texture of the dish.

Properly Cooking Laing

  • Cooking laing is an easy process, but it requires some attention to detail to ensure the dish comes out perfect.
  • Make sure to chop the ingredients into similar-sized pieces to ensure even cooking.
  • When cooking the dish, start with a low heat setting and gradually increase it to prevent the coconut milk from boiling over or burning.
  • Stir the mixture occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot and scraping the bottom to prevent burning.
  • Adding the coconut milk gradually can also help prevent curdling.
  • If the mixture is too dry, add more coconut milk or water to achieve the desired consistency.

Laing Nutrition Information

  • Laing is a high-protein dish that contains coconut milk, taro leaves, and other vegetables.
  • It’s a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, iron, and potassium.
  • However, due to the high fat content of coconut milk, laing is also a high-calorie dish.
  • To lower the calorie count, you can use a lower-fat coconut milk or reduce the amount of coconut milk used in the recipe.

Laing: Answering Your Burning Questions

Laing is a traditional Filipino dish that uses taro leaves, coconut milk, and spicy chili peppers as its main ingredients. Other common ingredients include pork, ginger, onion, and garlic.

Is laing easy to prepare?

Yes, laing is a relatively easy dish to prepare. The cooking process involves gently stirring the mixture of ingredients in a pot and allowing it to simmer for a medium amount of time.

What is the meaning of “laing” and what languages is it related to?

The word “laing” means “taro leaves” in the Bicolano language, which is spoken in the Bicol region of the Philippines. It is also related to the Thai dish called “ginataang” which uses similar ingredients such as coconut milk and chili peppers.

What is the difference between laing and pinangat?

Laing and pinangat are both Filipino dishes that use taro leaves and coconut milk. However, pinangat is usually cooked with dried fish or meat, while laing uses pork or other local meat.

How long does it take to cook laing?

The prep time for laing is typically around 15-20 minutes, while the cooking time takes around 30-40 minutes.

What are some tips for cooking laing?

Here are some tips to help you cook a nice laing dish:

  • Thinly slice the pork to ensure it cooks evenly.
  • Finely chop the onion and ginger to prevent large parts from overpowering the dish.
  • Cover the pot while cooking to allow the flavors to mix and prevent the coconut milk from curdling.
  • Stir the mixture occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Use smoked or dried fish for an extra smoky flavor.
  • Serve with steamed rice to complete the meal.

What makes laing unique compared to other Filipino dishes?

Laing is unique because it uses taro leaves, which is not a common ingredient in other Filipino dishes. It also has a rich and spicy flavor that is different from the typical sweet and savory dishes found in Filipino cuisine.

Where can I find the ingredients for laing?

You can find the ingredients for laing at your local Filipino market or Asian grocery shop. Taro leaves may be difficult to find, but you can substitute it with spinach or kale.

Can laing be prepared in different ways?

Yes, laing can be prepared in different ways depending on your preference. Some people like it to be extra spicy, while others prefer it to be mild. You can also add different meats or vegetables to the dish to make it more filling.

Is laing a main dish or a side dish?

Laing can be served as a main dish or a side dish, depending on the occasion. It is usually served with steamed rice and other Filipino dishes.

What is the best way to finish a laing dish?

The best way to finish a laing dish is to allow it to simmer until the coconut milk has completely thickened and the taro leaves are tender. You can also add a splash of lime juice or vinegar to give it an extra kick.

Laing vs Pinangat: What’s the Difference?

Laing and Pinangat are two popular dishes commonly found in the Bicol region of the Philippines. Both dishes are prepared using taro leaves, coconut milk, and chili peppers. However, the main difference lies in the meat used to cook the dish. Laing is traditionally cooked with pork, while Pinangat is commonly prepared with fish.

Ingredients and Cooking Style

Laing is a spicy and rich dish that contains pork and taro leaves cooked in coconut milk. The dish is cooked until the liquid is reduced, resulting in a dry and slightly crispy texture. On the other hand, Pinangat is a sour dish that is cooked with fish, taro leaves, and a souring agent like tamarind or kamias. The resulting dish is a little bit soupy and is served with white rice.

Spiciness and Heat Level

Laing is known for its strong and spicy flavor, while Pinangat is a little bit milder in terms of spiciness. However, Pinangat can be made spicier by adding more chili peppers to the dish.

Variations and Local Presence

Both Laing and Pinangat have different variations depending on the town or region where they are prepared. In Camalig, Laing is commonly served with a little bit of sugar to balance out the spiciness, while in other places, Laing is served with a side of sliced tomatoes. Pinangat, on the other hand, is commonly served with a side of sliced ginger to add a little bit of heat to the dish.

Vegetarian Options

For those who prefer a vegetarian version of these dishes, Laing can be prepared without the pork, while Pinangat can be cooked using vegetables like eggplant and okra instead of fish.

Where to Find Them

Both Laing and Pinangat can be found in most Filipino restaurants, especially those that specialize in Bicolano cuisine. However, the best way to experience these dishes is to visit the Bicol region and try them in local eateries or stands.

In short, Laing and Pinangat are two related dishes that contain similar ingredients but are cooked in different ways, resulting in two distinct products. Whether you prefer the spicy and rich flavor of Laing or the sour and slightly spicy taste of Pinangat, you can be assured that both dishes offer a great way to experience the heart and soul of Bicolano food.

Uncovering the Differences Between Laing and Gabi

Gabi, also known as taro, is a root vegetable commonly used in Filipino cuisine. It is a staple ingredient in laing, a popular dish in the Philippines.

Which Should You Use?

If you’re looking to make laing, you’ll need to use dried taro leaves. However, if you’re looking to add gabi to a dish, you can use it fresh and sliced. Both ingredients have their own unique flavor and texture, so it really depends on what you’re looking to make.

In conclusion, while laing and gabi are often used interchangeably, they are two distinct ingredients with their own unique characteristics. Whether you’re making laing or adding gabi to a dish, both ingredients are delicious and versatile in Filipino cuisine.


So there you have it- everything you need to know about laing. It’s a delicious Filipino dish made with taro leaves, meat, and coconut milk, and it’s perfect for lunch or dinner. 

You can’t go wrong with laing, so go ahead and give it a try.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.