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Bicol Express Recipe: How to Cook Bicol Express

Bicol Express is a popular Filipino dish that originated from the Bicol region in the Philippines. It is named after the passenger train service that used to run from Manila to the Bicol region. The Bicol Express recipe was believed to have been created by locals who wanted to showcase the region’s love for spicy food.

Bicol Express is said to have been invented in the 1970s by a woman named Cely Kalaw, a resident of the Bicol region. She is credited with creating the dish while working as a cook at a restaurant in Naga City. It quickly gained popularity among locals and eventually spread throughout the Philippines.

It is known for its bold and spicy flavors.  The dish typically features pork cooked in coconut milk, along with shrimp paste and a variety of chili peppers. The dish has a rich and creamy texture from the coconut milk, balanced with the savory and slightly briny taste of shrimp paste. The spiciness level can vary depending on the amount of chili peppers used, but it is generally considered a spicy dish.

Bicol Express

The dish is beloved in the Philippines, especially in the Bicol region where it originated. It has also gained popularity in other parts of the country and is frequently served in Filipino restaurants worldwide. The combination of the rich and spicy flavors makes it a favorite among those who enjoy bold and vibrant Filipino cuisine.

Bicol Express is often served with steamed rice, which helps to balance the heat of the dish. It has become a symbol of Bicolano cuisine and is celebrated as one of the iconic dishes of the Philippines.

Bicol Express Recipe Ingredients:

  • 500 grams of pork belly or pork shoulder, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 pieces red chili peppers (siling labuyo), chopped (adjust according to your desired level of spiciness)
  • 2 pieces long green chili peppers (siling haba), sliced diagonally
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste (bagoong alamang)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the cooking oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant and slightly translucent.
  3. Add the pork slices to the pan and cook until they turn light brown and are slightly crispy on the edges.
  4. Stir in the shrimp paste and cook for another minute to release its flavor.
  5. Add the red chili peppers and green chili peppers to the pan. Adjust the amount of chili peppers according to your preferred level of spiciness.
  6. Pour in the coconut milk and bring it to a simmer. Let it cook for about 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together and the pork to become tender.
  7. Stir in the coconut cream and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning according to your preference.
  9. Once the pork is tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, remove from heat.
  10. Serve the Bicol Express hot with steamed rice.

Note: Bicol Express is traditionally a spicy dish, but you can adjust the amount of chili peppers according to your taste. If you can’t find shrimp paste, you can substitute it with fish sauce (patis) as an alternative.

Bicol Express Nutrition

Here is the approximate nutritional information for Bicol Express per serving (based on a typical recipe and serving size):

  • Calories: 350-400 calories
  • Total Fat: 30-35 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 20-25 grams
  • Cholesterol: 60-70 milligrams
  • Sodium: 400-500 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 5-10 grams
  • Fiber: 1-2 grams
  • Protein: 15-20 grams

Please note that these values may vary depending on the specific ingredients used and the cooking method. It’s always a good idea to double-check the nutritional information for your specific recipe and adjust the serving size accordingly.

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