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Best Bicol Express Recipe Ever…


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Brian Kennett

Amateur Chef and Boozy Traveling Foodie Extraordinaire

Best Bicol Express Recipe; a Must-Try...

Bicol Express is an extremely popular Filipino dish introduced to me by Mary. Originated in the district of Malate, Manila, and then later made into true Bicolano style. A sort of mild (if you want it to be) curry with green chilies, coconut milk, shrimp paste, onion, pork, and garlic. There are today many different varieties of Bicol Express, including mine.

This is not to be confused with a Binagoongan Recipe, or Chicken Binagoongan. But for sure you could tweak this to be Chicken Bicol Express, then offer up a potential Halal version which would be ace. Actually, there’s an idea for my next Filipino recipe Chicken Bicol Express, it would also give me a chance to take a better photo this time. This dish is a great version of spicy Filipino food.

Bicol Express History

Bicol Express originates from the Bicol region in the Philippines. The dish is named after the Bicol Express train, known for its speed, reflecting the spicy and flavorful nature of the dish. The other popular rumour is that the Chef on the Bicol Express train actually invented the dish. That surely gets my vote!!!

It was popularized in the district of Malate, Manila, but it is made in the traditional Bicolano style. The Bicol region, located in the southeastern part of Luzon, is renowned for its rich culinary heritage, and Bicol Express is a delicious representation of the region’s distinctive flavors. The dish has become a beloved Filipino classic and spicy Filipino food, celebrated for its combination of spicy chilies, creamy coconut milk, and savory pork.

Apologies for the shocking photo quality. This recipe is from a long long time ago, like over 10 years ago now.
Best Bicol Express Recipe - Philippines

Welcome to Flavorful Filipino Journeys with

Embark on a culinary adventure as we delve into the vibrant world of Filipino cuisine, with our spotlight on the beloved Bicol Express. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with a dish that’s not just a meal but a symphony of flavors dancing on your palate. Originating from the Bicol region, this spicy masterpiece is a celebration of the Philippines’ rich culinary heritage, and we’re here to guide you through every step of crafting the perfect Bicol Express.

Picture this: succulent pork belly strips, bathed in a luscious blend of creamy coconut milk, aromatic shrimp paste, and the fiery kick of long chilies. The kitchen transforms into a fragrant haven, echoing the culinary traditions of the Bicolanos. As we journey through the recipe, we’ll unravel the secrets to achieving that perfect balance between creaminess and spiciness, ensuring your Bicol Express is a culinary triumph that leaves a lasting impression.

But our exploration doesn’t end with just the recipe – we’ll dive into the history and cultural significance of Bicol Express, discovering how it has become a culinary icon representing the heart and soul of Filipino comfort food. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and join us in creating a taste sensation in spicy Filipino food that will transport you straight to the vibrant streets of Bicol. Get ready to make memories in the kitchen and savor the magic of Bicol Express like never before!

I’m going to sound like a broken record when I state that this is amazing. Sweet, salty, meaty, coconuty, spicy – oh my, they’ll be coming back for more of this one, believe me! I learned the exact recipe from Mary, but, of course, you now know me, I have to change it a little. Mary thinks my version is more Thai than authentic Filipino, but hey that is what cooking is all about for me.

With some steamed rice this will easily feed 4-6. You will need:

  • 1 kilo of lean pork fillet cut in to strips lengthways
  • 3 green Jalapeño peppers
  • 3 cups of coconut milk (fresh is best)
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce (this is where Mary says I got all Thai on her)
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed or chopped finely to a mince
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup of French beans topped and tailed and halved
  • 1 cup of coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped ginger, or about an inch knob (ooer!)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped lemon grass, or about 2 stalks
  • 1 pinch of turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 2 handfuls of bean sprouts
  • 2 cups of cooked plain white rice – or more, depending on how many you have coming to eat with you.

First, take a bowl of salty water and soak the chilies for 30 minutes, rinse and strain. Then cut in half and de-seed running a teaspoon reversed up the length, and cut into strips.

Heat the oil in a pan and then brown off the pork for a few minutes only. In another pan sauté off the garlic, onion, lemongrass, ginger, and fish sauce. Once “wilted” add to the pork, and put back on the heat again. Add in the turmeric, and coconut milk. Bring this to a gentle boil, and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or so being careful not to overcook and burn the milk. Add in the chilies, French beans, and bean sprouts, and cook until the liquid starts to dry up. Once this happens in goes the coconut cream.

Simmer this until the sauce thickens and glistens.

Add some salt to taste, and serve with the rice. Maybe sprinkle some fried onions on top, or maybe even a few dried shrimp.

Conclusions of the Best Bicol Express Recipe...

This spicy Filipino food dish is mega. Simply delicious. My thanks to The Philippines, and my Mary of course – although I am taking the credit for it as I added a few things of my own, haha! ENJOY!!!

People also asked about the infamous Bicol Express

1. What is Bicol Express, and where does it originate?Bicol Express is a Filipino dish hailing from the Bicol region, known for its spicy pork belly stew in coconut milk.
2. What are the key ingredients that make Bicol Express unique?The dish features long chilies, coconut milk, shrimp paste, onion, pork, garlic, and ginger, creating a perfect balance of flavors.
3. Can Bicol Express be customized for dietary preferences?Absolutely! You can modify the recipe by incorporating seafood or creating a vegetarian version without compromising on taste.
4. Why is it called “Bicol Express”?The name is a nod to the Bicol region’s famous train, expressing the dish’s spicy and fast-paced flavor profile.
5. What role does shrimp paste play in the Bicol Express recipe?Shrimp paste, or bagoong, adds a savory depth to the dish, enhancing its umami and providing a distinctive Filipino touch.
6. How can one balance the spiciness in Bicol Express to suit personal preferences?Adjust the number of chilies or choose milder varieties to control the spice level, ensuring it aligns with your taste preferences.
7. Are there regional variations of Bicol Express?Yes, different regions may add their unique twist to the dish, showcasing the diverse culinary landscape within the Philippines.
8. Can Bicol Express be made in advance?Certainly! The flavors often deepen when allowed to marinate, making it a great dish to prepare ahead for special occasions.
9. What side dishes pair well with Bicol Express?Traditional choices include rice, but it also complements other Filipino favorites like laing (taro leaves in coconut milk) or even plain steamed vegetables.
10. Is Bicol Express a common dish in Filipino celebrations?Yes, Bicol Express is a staple at celebrations, embodying the warmth and hospitality of Filipino gatherings with its rich and flavorful presence.

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