Tips on How to Cook Bicol Express

The popular Bicol Express dish is made mainly of pork cooked in shrimp paste, local chilies and the most important ingredient, coconut milk. The original name of the dish is derived from a region of the Philippines which is Bicol; wherein the coconuts are widely used in all sorts of areas while the use of chilies is being emphasized in most meals of the town. Before we get started on how to cook Bicol Express, let us first dive into the history of the dish for you to better appreciate its authenticity and uniqueness.

History of the Bicol Express Recipe

It has been rumored that Bicol Express have been first conceptualized jyhtegrfedsand cooked by the famous Ms. Cely Kalaw in her own restaurant in Manila during the early 70’s. As said by Angela de Leon, author of “Soul Train: The Unlikely Beginnings of a Beloved Filipino Dish” which has been published last October 2006 in Chile Pepper Magazine, Ms. Kalaw originally had a Taro dish but due to complaints from a lot of her customers, she transformed it into a hot and spicy dish which turned out to be a great compliment for the Taro. From here, the Bicol Express was created.

This information regarding the origin of the well-known Bicol Express may or may not be true as there are also other claims that persist that the original and first Bicol Express came from Bicol region. This idea isn’t far-fetched because most Bicolano dishes have coconuts in them. Wherever the idea first sprung up, there is no denying that this dish is delicious and quite healthy as well. Try this out at home; it will surely get a thumbs up from your family.

Cuisine: Filipino Recipe

Serves: four to six persons

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 55 minutes

Total Time: one hour


3 cups of coconut milk

2 lbs of pork belly chopped into strips

A cup of Shrimp Paste

1 tbsp of minced garlic

6 pieces of Serrano pepper or Thai chili

3 tablespoons of minced ginger

2 tablespoons of minced onion

2 tablespoons of cooking oil

Lastly, Salt and Pepper -to taste


Heat a large pan and as soon as it has absorbed enough heat, pour in the cooking oil.

Sauté the ginger, garlic, and onion all at once.

Add the strips of pork and then leave it to cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until pork turns light brown.

Add in the Serrano pepper or Thai chili and the shrimp paste. Stir.

Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for up to 40 minutes to tenderize pork.

Add in ground black pepper and salt to taste.

Serve hot.

So that is it on how to cook Bicol Express. Enjoy and let us know what you think!