It’s the start of a new year, and for many people in the Philippines, it’s the season for adventures. However, it can actually be a season for eating healthy food, and it shouldn’t be made as an excuse to pig out, or simply feast on fatty food. If you’d like to keep your calories low, yet satisfy your cravings, here are a couple of today’s top Filipino vegetable dishes that you can easily cook at home.
Laing (Taro Leaves Cooked In Coconut Milk)
One of the best Filipino food recipes is “laing”, or taro (gabi) leaves cooked in coconut milk. This dish originated in the Bicol region, in Luzon, and features a rich, creamy and spicy taste.
To prepare laing, you’ll need the following: 4 cups dried taro leaves, ½ pound pork loin or shoulders (boiled and cut in strips), 2 cans coconut milk, 1 piece long chili pepper (cut in strips), 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1 medium onion (chopped), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 thumb-sized ginger (cut in strips), 2 tablespoons sautéed shrimp paste and 1 tablespoon cooking oil.
To cook, sauté the garlic, onion and ginger in cooking oil, then add pork and cook for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring from time to time. Cook until the taro leaves have fully absorbed the coconut milk, and almost rendering fat. Serve with rice.
Cooking time is an estimated 20 minutes.
Pinakbet (Stewed Eggplant, Okra & Ampalaya With Salted Fish Sauce)
Pinakbet is a dish which is believed to have originated in the Ilocos region, and is a mix of stewed eggplant, ampalaya or bitter melon, okra, tomatoes and salted fish sauce.
To prepare, you’ll need 2 pieces ampalaya (cut into 2” length), 2 pieces eggplant (cut into 2” length wedges), 6-8 pieces okra, 2 pieces tomatos (cut in wedges), 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1 medium onion (chopped), 1 tablespoon “bagoong isda” or thick salted fish sauce, 1 ½ cup shrimp, fish or pork broth, 1 teaspoon ground pepper and 2 tablespoons cooking oil.
Sauté the garlic, onion and tomatoes, then add the pork and sauté for a minute. Turn the heat down and add the vegetables, layering these in the pan from the bottom in the following order – ampalaya, okra and eggplant.
Add the broth and bagoong, cover, then let it boil and simmer for at least 15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still firm. Stir in the fish and shrimp, season with ground pepper. Serve with rice.
Another truly popular Filipino veggie dish is “adobong kangkong, or water spinach cooked In vinegar, soy sauce and garlic.
You’ll need the following ingredients: 1 bunch kangkong leaves (leaves separated and stalks cut in 2” length), ½ pound pork loin (pre-boiled and cubed), ½ can canned broth, pork, chicken or vegetable, 4 cloves garlic (minced), 1 medium onion (chopped), ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup vinegar, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons corn starch (dissolved in 1 tablespoon water to make a slurry) and cooking oil for sautéing.
Sauté the garlic, onion and tomatoes, then add the pork and sauté for a minute. Add soy sauce, broth and vinegar and bring to a boil, but don’t stir. Add the kangkong stalks and cook for a minute, then add the leaves.
Thicken the sauce using the starch dissolved in water, and bring to a boil. Don’t forget to serve this popular filipino food favorite with rice!