Filipino Bicol Express
It has been weird in some ways not sharing a weekly recipe creation with all of you. Fortunately, however, my family was able to disconnect (well except for my kids and their darn devices) and take a week long road trip. Where you may ask? Tennessee, the whole state and wow was it a blast. I think, and I hope we got so much in during the week. I went down on a mission, a different one than my wife and probably kids for that matter, and that was to try some of the best barbecue and fried chicken I have ever had; hands down ever. In summary Rendezvous ribs and barbecue nachos, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Peg Leg Barbecue ribs (got the last rack and it was only noon (they opened at 11)), and Hatti B’s Nashville hot chicken. So with that said, I’m ready to share with you a great recipe, and one that has some heat to it, much like Hatti B’s!
Bicol Express is a Filipino dish that finally has some heat to it. Don’t get me wrong here, I love pretty much any Filipino dish that has come my way, but I’m always questioning in my mind ‘Do they not use any heat when cooking?’.
This is the perfect answer to that question. I love how the Filipino’s use vinegar, garlic, and lots of black pepper in some of their dishes, and that is right up my alley, but this recipe has me. It’s a stew with very simple ingredients. It’s comforting. It has the perfect heat, and is great served alongside rice.
Let’s get started.
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 lb pork belly, cut into 2 inch cubes
- 4 tbsp roasted shrimp paste (this stuff stinks but brings such umami)
- 1 whole onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 14 fresh chilies (Thai Bird, Indian Green Chile, or Serrano) of your choice, stems removed, chiles sliced in half
- 2 cans of coconut milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
- cooked rice, optional
Start by heating a medium sized pot (you will cook everything in this pot) on medium heat, then add the oil. Once the oil comes to temperature, add in the cubed pork belly.
Cook the pork belly, turning along the way, until all sides become browned.
Once the pork is browned, add in the onions, garlic, and ginger. Give a good stir, and continue to cook for about 3 minutes or so.
Next add in the shrimp paste. Turn on your vent on high as this stuff has some funk (good funk), and continue to stir. Toss in the chilies, stir again, then add in the coconut milk.
Bring this to a simmer, and cook for about 1 hour, on low, stirring along the way.
Before serving, taste and season with any salt or pepper.
Now you are ready to dig in. I like to serve with a small bowl of rice to the side, along with a soup bowl of the Bicol Express. This dish is rich, creamy, spicy, funky, and overall totally comforting and right up my alley. Don’t be scared of the chiles as you can eat around them. The chilies overall bring that subtle heat to the dish overall, but if you are searching for a bit of that chili punch when eating, go ahead and bite into them! Hope you enjoy, and it’s great to be back!