Bicol Express

Bicol Express Recipe

The outcome of this Bicol Express Recipe can be described as pork cooked in coconut milk with shrimp paste and chilies. No wonder the name of this dish was derived from a Philippine region (Bicol) wherein Coconuts are abundant and the use of chilies is emphasized in most local meals.

There are stories saying that Bicol express was conceptualized and first cooked by Ms. Cely Kalaw in her Manila restaurant sometime during the late 60’s to the early 70’s. Based on an article written by Angela De Leon entitled Soul Train: The Unlikely Beginnings Of A Beloved Filipino Dish (published in Chile Pepper Magazine last October 2006), Ms. Kalaw toned down the heat on her Taro dish (this could be “Laing”) after receiving complains from some customers. However, she knew that other customers wanted the Taro dish to be hot and spicy so she invented another amazingly spicy hot dish that would best compliment the Taro. Thus, Bicol Express was born.

Bicol Express

But how was she able to come up with the name? As per Angela’s article, the taro incident and new spicy dish invention happened in just one day. Apparently, Ms. Kalaw finished cooking the new dish but still cannot think of any name for it. As lunch time drew nearer, she was getting anxious because the customers will soon flock-in and she has yet to name her newest masterpiece. At that moment, she heard the daily train to Bicol ramble by the window. It was the light bulb moment that she was waiting for.

The information in the article about the origin of Bicol Express might be true, or not. There are many claims that the original Bicol Express Recipe came from the Bicol region. We all know that Bicolano dishes are delicious and pretty looking so there is a big possibility that this dish really originated from the Bicol region. What do you think?

Try this Bicol Express Recipe and let me know what you think.


Bicol Express Recipe
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6
  • Serving size: 6
Cuisine: Filipino Recipe
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 2 lbs pork belly, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup Shrimp Paste
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 6 pieces Thai chili or Serrano pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat a pan and then pour-in the cooking oil.
  2. Sauté the garlic, onion, and ginger
  3. Add the pork and then continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes or until the color becomes light brown
  4. Put-in the shrimp paste and Thai chili or Serrano pepper. Stir.
  5. Pour the coconut milk in. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 40 minutes or until the pork is tender
  6. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste
  7. Serve Hot. Enjoy!


Watch the cooking video:

Published by

Vanjo Merano

I blog about Filipino and Asian food and recipes.

21 thoughts on “Bicol Express Recipe”

  1. Hello, Sir! Thanks for this recipe. My partner is such a good cook but he’s not familiar with Bicol Express.. He followed these steps and added some tomatoes. The taste was remarkable!

  2. Awesome post! I’ve been looking for variations to techniques in cooking this dish. Tried it again last week. I guess I need to tweak it some more. Thank you!

  3. great website! it has added to my repertoire of recipes….. I was really getting fed up with always cooking adobo, sinigang or nilaga…. now, i can cook other stuff as well and its sure to taste great… anyways, just wanted to ask if i could use dried chili flakes instead of fresh chilies in the bicol express? thanks…

  4. actually bicol express was first cook and eaten in tutuban train station, was invented by some kainan there and cely kalaw must have copied it from there! sa karindirya lang naimbento po ang bicol express by mistake ng taong alang pangalan. tapos pinangalanan ng bicol express base on the train “bicol express”.. peace

    1. hehe sorry po if I disapointed you pero sinulat ko lang ang narinig kong kwento and Tutuban is one of the oldest PNR station sa atin so I wont be surprice if this was true.

  5. I tried this recipe yesterday and I’m very satisfied with it! yehey! I never really cook and so I thanked this site for the very detailed instructions. I will surely comeback for more recipes. ^_^

  6. Hi Kuya,

    This video woud really help me a lot… especially i was getting off this week. I was planning to cook for my family and this is the main dish… Can’t wait for them to criticize my cooking… hahaha

    Thanks po….

  7. i loved all ur recipes,i’m a massage therapist here in california n i told my filipino clients about u ur clling n they said they will check ur website. thnks 4 sharing ur recipes. God bless u n ur family

  8. the food was great..ang saarap the recipes helped me a lot thank you for uploading all the recipes..i will deffinetly recommend this site to all my friends

  9. hi, there. thx for sharing your talent in cooking. this is how i cook my bicol express here in Malaysia, and everybody loves it, always patok ika nga! On friday, i’m gonna cook this one again for another potluck get together among friends (somebody requested, :) ). p.s i do add chilli flakes for extra super dooper kick! 😛

Comments are closed.