Bicol Express Recipe

Get your tummies ready for this mouth-watering and rice consuming Bicol Express. This recipe is very delicious, easy to make, and uses very common ingredients.

Bicol Express Recipe
Stew Pork Special Occasion Spicy Quick and Easy Savory

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Origin of the dish

Bicol Express is a famous Filipino dish which refers to a pork stew sautéed with garlic, onions and ginger. The pork is then simmered in a coconut milk and made more delicious with the touch of the shrimp paste and spiced up with chili peppers.

This dish was originated from the Philippines. Though it is named after the town of Bicol, this mouth-watering dish was made popular in Malate, Manila. However, it is traditionally cooked in Bicolano style. The dish got its name from a native resident of Laguna, Cely Kalaw, when she joined a cooking competition in Malate, Manila in the year 1970s. She named the dish after the Bicol Express railway train which route is from Tutuban, Manila to Legazpi, Albay. It is also believed that Bicol Express is a variety of the original dish in Bicol called “Gulay na may Lada”, which translates to “vegetable with chili”. The two dishes have the same ingredients except that Bicol Express has pork while the latter is cooked with pure vegetables.

When is Bicol Express Typically Served?

Bicol Express is typically served as main dish, not to mention that this is very much a rice-consuming dish. So better prepare an ample amount of rice for it will make you want more rice and Bicol express. Hence, this is best served during cheat days. In the Philippines, it is common and generally served during special occasions like Fiesta, weddings, birthdays, or any family gatherings and events.

Kitchen Utensils You Will Need

You will be needing the following Kitchen Utensils in preparing and cooking the famous and delicious Bicol Express:

  • Strainer
  • Chopping board
  • Chopping knife
  • Bowls
  • Spatula
  • Serving Bowl
  • Skillet or Frying pan

Bicol Express’ Primary Ingredients – Pork and Coconut Milk.

Cooking Bicol Express during special occasions or just a regular day you want to be special is not a problem since its ingredients mainly the pork and coconut milk, which are both very common and can easily be found in your nearby store, supermarkets, or even malls. These ingredients bring you a lot of health benefits as well. Pork, with moderate consumption, is a good source of vitamins and minerals like protein, Vitamins B6 and B12, zinc, iron, plus it is richer in thiamine. Coconut milk on the other hand is highly beneficial and nutritious. It contains vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6. In addition to that, coconut milk is also rich in fiber. It can help in weight loss, keeps good digestion, and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.

Interesting Facts

  • Bicol Express is widely known in Bicol as Sinilihan, which actually means spiced with chili, since one of its ingredients is a good amount of chili peppers.
  • You may first think that the dish is from the Bicol region but funny to think it is actually not, though it way of cooking is natively came from the region. However, it is made by Cely Kalaw, who was exposed in Bicolano cuisine, and first made the dish in the district of Malate, Manila.

Tips and Tricks in Cooking Bicol Express

  • Since Bicol Express has shrimp paste ingredient, for some people allergic to this kind of seafood, you can substitute it with fish sauce or just disregard and fully exclude those ingredients when cooking the dish.
  • Since it is mentioned in the directions of cooking Bicol express to use coconut milk in the first simmer of the pork, you can actually use water to simmer the dish and just pour the coconut milk on the latter part of simmering the dish to prevent it from becoming too oily.


  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 small sized ginger, minced
  • 1 kg pork belly, cut into strips
  • 3 pcs green chili pepper
  • 3 pcs red chili pepper
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shrimp paste
  • 1 teaspoon of cooking oil


  1. Heat a skillet. Add oil, once oil is heated, sauté garlic, onions and ginger.

    Bicol Express Recipe
  2. Put in the pork belly and mix until light brown. Add the shrimp paste and pepper then mix.

    Bicol Express Recipe
  3. Pour in 1 cup of coconut milk, cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

    Bicol Express Recipe
  4. Pour in the remaining coconut milk and and season with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Mix well and add the green and red chili peppers.

    Bicol Express Recipe
  5. Mix and simmer for another 5 minutes. Done! Transfer in a bowl and serve with rice!

    Bicol Express Recipe

Bicol Express is indeed a good idea of dish on every occasion. Cooking it is quite simple and easy plus the ingredients are very much accessible to your area. You will surely fall in love with the good combination of spicy and creamy taste of this dish. This is also a good way to keep a good impression to your guests and family. A taste that will surely linger in their mouth as they go home from your house and definitely something they would keep coming back to.