Leaf Cookery and Regional Cooking-A A +A
By Artie Sy
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
LEAF cookery has been with cooks for quite a long time. The greeks have grape leaves with rice and raisins, the americans have cabbage leaves with rice and ground beef or pork, and the pinoys have taro leaves with taro and its leaves, the leaves wrapping up all sort of goodies. the wrapped goodies may be shrimps, bits of fish, dried or fresh, bits of pork or chicken and actually anything you can think of. the beauty of leaf cookery is such that nothing is wasted, but then again in the markets of baguio the leaves of the taro (gabi) are more expensive than the stalks.
I have a suki in Baguio selling an imported variety of gabi. Whenever I pass by her stall, she cuts everything for me leaves, stems and roots. One huge overflowing plastic bag for only P40. Then I use about 4-5 coconuts for its milk and cream.or you may not be a purist and use 2 or 3 packs of coconut milk powder. More than enough for home, we share with friends within the neighborhood and bring some at the office.
Dishes cooked with coconut milk is my all time favorite dish. No wonder, laing then became one of my favorite dishes. I loved the hotness and the coconut milk mixture. I am sure you will too.
BICOL LAING, (one version)
Please bear in mind that this dish has a many versions as there are housewives in the Bicol region.
• 15-20 pieces wilted taro leaves (some markets already provide dried taro leaves)
• 1/2 kilo of peeled stalks
• 2 coconuts, grated (Prepare Coconut milk)prep coconut milk fresh or like i said, use powder
• 2 dried fishes meat (bones removed)
• 10 medium shrimps peeled but heads left intact
• 2 strips of liempo of pork
• half a breast of chicken
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1 ginger, thumb sized
• 8 cloves garlic, minced
• 6 to 8 pieces cayenne peppers
• 1 Tablespoons Fermented shrimps (Bagoong Alamang)
• Salt to taste
• tanglad or Lemon Grass
Leave the leaves for wrapping or if the leaves are large, divide into 2, not more, or your wrappers will be too small for wrapping. Set Aside.
Extract coconut cream from grated coconut with 1 cup water. Set Aside. (if you don’t have coconut, just use the ready made pack which is equivalent to 2 coconuts)
Get a second extraction with 2 cups water. Place half of the second extraction in a bowl and mix in the cut stalks, onion, ginger, garlic, peppers, fermented shrimps and seasoning.
Set aside the other cup of second extraction for step 5.
Wrap a bit of pork, a shrimp, a piece of fish or a piece of chicken in each taro leaf until your fillings are used up. Pack tightly forming a square shape. Tie with lemon grass. Set Aside
Pour second extraction (prepared in number 3) in a large pan and bring to a boil. Arrange wrapped mixture in a layer of boiling cream. Use water if you are using powder, or powder and water. Now add the stalks (peeled and cut)
Simmer until liquid is reduced to one half. Pour in the remaining thick cream.
Cook until cream thickens and oil comes out. It is called (naglalangis) in tagalog.
That is an example of leaf cookery in the pinoy cuisine, especially in the regions of the Bicols. They are particularly fond of it with more finger peppers.
Now we have an example of american leaf cookery especially cabbage leaves. These leaves are also stuff with rice and ground meats, thus making a dish or a meal by itself. If you stuff the leaves with rice or barley and ground meats, then it is a meal.
Stuffed cabbage leaves
Sweet and Sour Tomato Sauce:
• 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
• 2 garlic cloves, smashed
• 1 kilo of sliced tomatoes or half kilo pack of pinoy tomato sauce
• 1 tablespoon of vinegar
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 11/4 cup cooking oil
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1 kilo ground beef
• 1 kilo ground pork or ground chicken
• 1 large egg
• 1 1/2 cups steamed white rice
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 large heads green cabbage, about 1 kilo and a half
To make the sauce:
Coat a 3-quart saucepan with the oil and place over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar; simmer, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Place a skillet over medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the tomato paste, parsley, and 1/2 cup of the prepared sweet and sour tomato sauce, mix to incorporate and then take it off the heat. Combine the ground meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, the cooked rice, and the sauteed onion mixture. Toss the filling together with your hands to combine, season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove the large, damaged outer leaves from the cabbages and set aside. Cut out the cores of the cabbages with a sharp knife and carefully pull off all the rest of the leaves, keeping them whole and as undamaged as possible, ( separate all the small leaves and use them for coleslaw or whatever.) Blanch the cabbage leaves in the pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until pliable. Run the leaves under cool water then lay them out so you can assess just how many blankets you have to wrap up the filling. Next, carefully cut out the center vein from the leaves so they will be easier to roll up. Take the reserved big outer leaves and lay them on the bottom of a casserole pan, let part of the leaves hang out the sides of the pan. This insulation will prevent the cabbage rolls from burning on the bottom when baked. Use all the good looking leaves to make the cabbage rolls. Put about 1/2 cup of the meat filling in the center of the cabbage and starting at what was the stem-end, fold the sides in and roll up the cabbage to enclose the filling. Place the cabbage rolls side by side in rows, seam-side down, in a casserole pan.
Pour the remaining sweet and sour tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. Fold the hanging leaves over the top to enclose and keep the moisture in. Drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour until the meat is cooked.
Both dishes may be served with rice.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 15, 2012.