Bicol Express Recipe

Bicol Express Recipe

If you like spicy foods, then you’ll surely love Bicol Express. It’s a pork dish cooked in coconut milk with shrimp paste and lots of chilies. The dish originated from Bicol, hence the name Bicol Express.

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Bicol Express Recipe

The Origin of Bicol Express

But according to a Chile Pepper Magazine article written by Angela de Leon, which was issued in October 2006 with the title “Soul Train: The Unlikely Beginnings of a Beloved Filipino Dish,” Bicol Express is an accidental recipe. The story was that Ms. Cely Kalaw, a restaurateur who was born in Laguna but grew up in Bicol Region, is the original inventor of the famous Bicol Express recipe.

It was around 1960s, Ms. Cely opened a restaurant in Manila. Her bestseller was the taro dish or laing, another authentic Bicolano dish. Her version of this coconut-based dish (Bicolanos are known for their use of coconuts and chilies in their meals, a produce abundant in the region) is so deliciously hot that some of her customers complained. Ironic, isn’t it, to receive complaints over her best-selling dish?

Pork Dish

Although many of her customers still love the spiciness of her laing, being the sensible and a passionate cook that she has always been, Ms. Cely addressed this problem by reducing the number of chilies in her taro dish and cooking a new and hotter dish that would later become the famous Bicol Express. The new dish, she said, was concocted to satisfy her customers who loved super spicy foods.

As for the name Bicol Express, according to the same article, it was nearing lunch time and Ms. Cely already finished cooking her newly invented dish, but she worried that she couldn’t come up with a good name for the food yet. When she suddenly heard the sound of the train traveling from Manila to Bicol, that was it, the Bicol Express was baptized.

Spicy Dish

Now that you know the origin of Bicol Express dish, it’s time for you to learn how to cook this appetizing food using our Bicol Express recipe.

Bicol Express Recipe


  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 2 lbs pork belly, cut into strips
  • ½ cup shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 6 pieces siling labuyo
  • 3 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 medium-sized onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Turn on the stove and put the pan. Pour in the cooking oil.
  2. Cook the garlic, onion, and ginger.
  3. Add the pork. Keep stirring while cooking for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Once the meat turns light brown, put in the shrimp paste and the siling labuyo. Stir.
  5. Pour the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and continue cooking for about 40 minutes or until the pork is tender enough.
  6. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  7. Transfer to a serving plate.

Watch the video below


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