The Happy Home Cook: Lying Laing (Kale Greens in Coconut Milk)

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Marvin Gapultos' Lying Laing

Marvin Gapultos' Lying Laing

Laing (pronounced "lah-ing") is conventionally made with fresh or dried taro leaves slowly simmered in coconut milk. But I've found that kale makes for a wonderfully hearty substitute for what I like to call "Lying Laing." Although the faux laing may initially upset Filipino food traditionalists, they won't be able to resist the deliciously tender kale in its spicy coconut broth.

I like the texture and bite of lacinato kale (also called Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale), but any variety of kale works well in this recipe.

Serves 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes


2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1-2 Thai chili peppers, split in half lengthwise with stems intact
1 tablespoon fermented shrimp paste
1 pound (500 g) kale, washed, center ribs and stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) shrimp stock (see below) or water
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) coconut milk
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Heat a large wok or saute pan over high beat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Swirl the oil into the pan, and then add the onion and stir-fry until the pieces wilt and begin to lightly brown, 2-3 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, chili peppers and shrimp paste to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Toss the kale into the pan, and then cook and stir until the kale cooks down and wilts, 1-2 minutes.

Pour the Shrimp Stock and coconut milk into the pan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the kale is tender, 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve with steamed white rice.

Cook's Note: You can omit the shrimp paste and instead stir in 1 tablespoon of fish sauce when adding the coconut milk and water. Otherwise, you can season with additional salt. 

Shrimp Stock

Makes about 8 cups (about 1.75 liters)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes


1 pound (500 g) raw, head-on, shell-on medium shrimp
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
8 cups (1.75 liters) water


Peel and devein the shrimps, adding the shrimp heads and shells to a large pot and reserving the peeled shrimp for another use.

Place the garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns into the center of a square of cheesecloth. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth together to form a bundle, and then tie it closed with kitchen string.

Add the cheesecloth bundle to the pot with the shrimp heads and shells, and then add the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the top with a spoon or ladle.

Remove and discard the cheesecloth bundle from the pot. Working in batches, blend the shrimp head and shells, along with the liquid from the pot, in a blender. Blend until the shrimp head and shells are completely pureed, making sure you use all the liquid from the pot.

Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer and into a large bowl. Push on the solids in the strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the remaining solids in the strainer.

Allow the stock to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to a month.

Cooks Note: You can substitute the shrimp shells and heads with 1 lb (500 g) of crab or lobster shells, or even fish heads and bones, to instead make a seafood stock. Just simmer the shells or bones with water as directed above, and then strain the stock after 30 minutes.

Do not attempt to blend crab or lobster shells, or fish heads or bones, in your blender. 

Reprinted with the author's permission from The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey -- From Food Blog, to Food Truck, and Beyond

Marvin Gapultos

Marvin Gapultos

Marvin Gapultos is the author of the celebrated food blog, Burnt Lumpia (, and was the founder of Los Angeles’ first gourmet Filipino food truck, The Manila Machine. His first cookbook entitled, "The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey--From Food Blog, to Food Truck, and Beyond" is available for sale at Barnes and Noble bookstores, as well as from Amazon. Check out his Amazon site:

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