Please note that taro contains calcium oxalate and when eaten raw or undercooked it is toxic and can cause the mouth and throat to itch and burn. Make sure to cook taro leaves thouroughly before eating. Use gloves when processing to prevent itchy hands. Rinse and scrub fresh leaves thouroughly under running water before using in your recipe. Cook leaves for 30 minutes minimum, though a longer cook time is preferred.
Wash and prep taro safely as outlined above
Prepare your mise en place, in order of the ingredients list
Heat your pan to high heat and char your aromatics (ginger, garlic).
Once charred, add in the powdered mushrooms and kelp
Slowly add in coconut milk and let it boil
Add in the taro leaves in the pot, making sure all the leaves are submerged in the boiling liquid. DO NOT STIR THE LEAVES AT THIS STAGE AS THE LEAVES ARE STILL RAW AND YOU WILL ACTIVATE THE COMPOUNDS THAT WILL CAUSE ITCHING.
Boil uncovered on high heat for around 10 minutes then turn heat down to medium and continue to boil for the next 30 minutes. DO NOT STIR.
Just make sure you follow these precisely so the bottom will not burn. The technique is in controlling the temperature.
On the 15th minute mark, drop the taro root on top and DO NOT STIR. Just press down gently until it is surrounded by liquid
Let it boil for the next 15 minutes, uncovered and unstirred in controlled temperature of medium heat.
On the 25th minute mark, slowly ladle the coconut cream and increase the temperature to medium-high heat
On the 30th minute mark of continuous boiling, drop the chilis and sustain it at medium high heat.
This is now the time to stir the mixture. The taro leaves should have softened completely and lend a nice dark green colour to the sauce. Do not worry if it is still saucy, as it will reduce and thicken.
Technique is to “scrape and stir” — scrape the bottom of the pan and stir the contents back on top. This prevents the mixture forming a hard film and sticking completely to the bottom of the pan.
Alternately increase and decrease heat in 2-minute intervals while stirring for the next 10 mins.
Let it sit and simmer for the last 5 minutes and now is the time to season with salt to taste
Enjoy! Best served on rice and some extra chilies on the side. The gold standard in delicious, authentic-tasting and proper laing is if the taro leaves turn to a nice, dark green colour and has that great thick, dense and velvety consistency and not “saucy”. Beware of saucy laing, as it may indicate that the leaves have not been properly cooked within the “safe” zone.
50g fresh ginger, pounded and crushed
50g fresh garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
100g dried shiitake mushroom, powdered (blitz in food processor until powdered)
100g dried kelp strips
1kg fresh taro leaves, prepared safely and accordingly (use dried taro leaves if fresh is not available)
1000ml Coconut Milk
400ml Coconut Cream
150g taro root, batonnet
100g dried chilis (use fresh is preferred or omit if spicy is not your thing)
Sea salt flakes to season and taste