This Bicol Express dish has such a great balance of flavors. The chilies add a good amount of heat to the dish while the coconut milk cools it down a bit. The shrimp paste adds the perfect amount of saltiness and a certain depth of flavor. Some other recipes I’ve shared that uses shrimp paste include pinakbet and pork binagoongan. The best thing about this dish is that it is so quick and easy to make.
What is Bicol Express?
Bicol express is a spicy Filipino stew consisting of bite sized pieces of pork with chilies, coconut milk, shrimp paste (bagoong), onions, tomato and garlic. The dish is named after the train in the Bicol region of the Philippines, known for its spicy food.
Bicol express consists of few ingredients:
- Pork – You can use pork belly, pork shoulder or pork roast in this recipe, depending on how fatty you like your pork. Pork roast is the least fatty, then pork shoulder, with pork belly being the fattiest one of them all.
- Coconut Milk – The coconut milk cools this otherwise spicy dish.
- Sauteed Shrimp Paste (Bagoong) – This is a popular condiment in the Philippines. It’s very salty and adds a lot of flavor to the dish. Shrimp paste may not be readily available everywhere, so you may replace it with soy sauce or fish sauce.
- Thai Chilies- Adds the heat to the dish. I use Thai Chilies because it is what is most commonly available. Finally, feel free to adjust the spiciness by adding less or more chilies. If you like it extra mild, you may de-seed the chilies before adding them to the dish.
How to make Bicol Express
To make Bicol Express, first saute the garlic in a large skillet for a few seconds. Then, add the tomatoes and onions and continue to saute. After adding more oil to the pan, add the pork and cook until the pork is just browned. After that, add the coconut milk, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the Thai chilies and simmer for a bit longer. Finally, remove the pan from the heat and mix in the sauteed shrimp paste. Serve over steamed rice and enjoy!
- 2 tbsp oil, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion ,diced
- 1 tomato ,diced
- 2 lbs pork belly, pork shoulder or pork roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
- 6 green or red Thai chillies, minced
- 1 tbsp sauteed shrimp paste (can substitute with fish sauce or soy sauce)
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato and the onions. Continue to saute until the onion is translucent.
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil. Add the pork and saute until the pork is lightly browned.
- Add the coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the Thai chilies and simmer for 5 minutes more.
- Remove from the heat and add the shrimp paste (or soy sauce / fish sauce)
- Serve hot over steamed rice. Enjoy!