the other day i had a craving for Bicol Express. for those who have not heard of it, it is a dish from the Bicol region in the Philippines made from pork, coconut milk and chilies–lots of ’em. my maternal grandmother (who we call Mama Taba <fat>) is from Bicol and we all grew up eating their specialties: laing, pinangat and other coconut-milk-and-chili-recipes. on family occasions, laing would be among the first to disappear. it is made from gabi (taro) leaves cooked in coconut milk and garnished with yep–red chilies. in our family, even the little ones eat laing. even the pets eat laing.
so last Sunday, on another “what-to-cook-again-today” moment, i thought about how i used to love Mama Taba’s Bicol Express which had more chilies than pork. so i cooked it the way my hubby loves it.
i saute the pork in garlic, onion and lots of tomatoes until brown. i add in a dollop of shrimp paste, then the gata (second extraction of coconut milk). i let it simmer until the pork is tender and the milk has almost reduced to oil. i would then stir in the kakang gata (first extraction of coconut milk) and let it simmer for just a few more minutes before i put in slices of green and red chilies.
my sister would always request for laing but oddly, i never dared to cook it. i guess i am so intimated by the shadow of my grandmother’s laing. i feel i’d get very disappointed if it does not turn out the same. but maybe one of these days, you’ll see the post on my first attempt at laing. ; )