Bicol Express

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Recipe from anakha. Wikified by Kenning.

Friendly warning - you really gotta love spicy food to be able to enjoy the dish below.

Bicol Express

My dad's family originated from the Bicol region in the Philippines, which is known for having a predilection for spicy food. Very spicy food.

To the point where, when my dad was a child, corporal punishment involved making the kid chew on siling labuyo, or Thai Birdseye chili. Thank God my dad never passed that on to us.

Anyways, Bicol Express, a spicy coconut cream-based dish, is arguably the most famous dish to come from that region, and is practically a staple at family gatherings at my grandparents' home.


The recipe below is taken from Nora Daza, whose cookbooks can be found in almost every Filipino home.

Bicol Express

1/4 c. cooking oil
1 tbs. chopped garlic
1/2 c. chopped onions
1/4 c. chopped or grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp. dilao (fresh turmeric)
1 kg. pork, cooked & sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1-1/2 tbsp. chopped hot chili peppers (siling labuyo)
1-1/2 c. bagoong (shrimp paste)
6 c. coconut cream
2 - 3 c. fresh hot green pepper (elongated variety) sliced diagonally 1/4 inch strips. (These would be your regular long Thai chili peppers, or you can substitute serrano peppers here)
1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh red hot peppers (elongated variety) sliced diagonally - 1/4 inch strips (See above)
1 tsp. Aji-No-Moto, or local MSG equivalent


Sauté garlic in hot oil. Add onions and cook till translucent. Stir in fresh ginger and dilao and the sliced cooked pork. Stir continually for 5 minutes. Add bagoong (shrimp paste) and chopped hot chili peppers (siling labuyo). Stir until the pork is completely covered by mixture. Pour 6 c. coconut cream and add the sliced hot green and red peppers. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes. Add the aji-no-moto. Add salt if necessary.

The core of the dish is really the coconut cream and siling labuyo, and you can substitute practically any meat in place of the pork - I've even tasted a meatless version with tofu and liked it.

You can choose to omit the MSG if you wish.