Phillipino Bicol Express

Delicious or No ?

The day after I made my very first gising-gising, I brought the half of it to work for one of my co-workers to try. She is from Bicol and I was interested to know what she thought of my newfound recipe. Alas! Instead of the rave review I expected, she barely touched the portion I ladled on her plate. The next day in the break room, she plopped a big Tupperware in front of me and said, “This is how you do spicy. Go big or go home.” Oh My. Gaawwd! Her Bicol express was so viciously hot I couldn’t feel my tongue after each bite and yet it was so deliriously good I kept digging in for more.

I used about 14 reasonably large siling labuyo to make this Bicol express and the result is certainly not one for the meek. If you want to temper the heat a bit, use less amount of chilis from what is called for in the recipe or scrape the seeds off the pepper pods before mincing. Either way, hot or mild, make sure to have plenty of steamed rice ready. Enjoy!


20 mins


50 mins


1 hour 10 mins

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

1 tablespoon oil

1 small onion, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons shrimp paste

2 pounds pork belly, cut into strips

2 cups coconut milk

1 cup coconut cream

1 cup water

12 to 14 Thai chili peppers, stemmed and minced

salt and pepper to taste


In a wide pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until aromatic. Add shrimp paste and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until it begins to brown.

Add pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add coconut milk and water and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until liquid is reduced.

Add coconut cream and chili peppers. Continue to cook for about 20 to 25 minutes or until pork is tender and sauce begins to render fat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Adapted from