Bicol is well known of cooking foods with “gata” or coconut cream and lots of chili, which marked their region with genuine Asian cuisine. Chili or the “Sili” and coconut cream when mixed together results in a very appetizing taste that goes best with hot steaming white rice and do not ever forget to keep lots of water handy to cool down the spicy and burning taste in your tongue.
The world-famous Laing or Pinangat for Bicolanos, is a very delicious Bicolano dish made with bundles of taro leaves cooked in coconut cream and chilies (lots and lots of chilies). Almost all the main dishes from Bicol are gata and chili-based especially their way of cooking vegetables. Everything from jackfruit, banana blossom or any edible plant the come across, Bicolanos can transform it from a simple plant to a very delicious dish topped with lots of chilies.
Bicol express is one of the favorites not only in Bicol but all over the Philippines. This is their classic dish that Bicolanos are well known for. Bicol express is a mixture of pork meat and shrimp paste (bagoong) cooked in coconut cream, of course.
Kinunot is an exotic food made up of pagi or stingray meat and malunggay. Just like any other dishes in Bicol, the main ingredients are cooked in coconut cream and many chilies along with other vegetables and herbs.
The Spicy Cuisine of Bicol
1 kilo pork meat, cut into serving size
½ cup Siling labuyo or Philippine bird’s eye pepper
3 cups coconut milk
½ cup sautéed shrimp paste or bagoong alamang
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 pc chopped onion
Sauté garlic and onion in a saucepan
Put the chopped pork meat and siling labuyo
Continue sauteing until pork meat start to release its fats and turn golden brown
Add in the sauteed shrimp paste and stir
Pour the coconut milk gradually
Keep the fire low and continue to simmer until pork becomes soft and tender to your taste and sauce thickens according to your desire
Serve hot with steam white rice
According to locals, before doing a vigorous activity, they require eating those spicy dishes to let their body release enough energy they needed.
If you want your Bicol Express cooked with lots of chilies but not making it too spicy, just remember to scrape off the membranes and seed of the chilies!
Bicol Express was named after a train that route from Manila, particularly in Paco Station to Bicol Region.
It is popularized actually in Malate, Manila but they made it in a traditional Bicol-style dish.
According to some people, Bicol Express was really invented by Cely Kalaw, which is the author of “The Philippine Cookbook” that was edited by Nina Daza Kalaw and Virginai Roces de Guzman, both known for their cooking expertise