I’ve shared a Bicol Express recipe a few years back. That version has been updated in our kitchen since then. I suppose it is time to share another way of how I cook bicol express at home. I added ginger into the new recipe. It adds more heat to the dish and a rather stronger flavor.
Bicol express is a hot dish to start with. Hubby and I both love spicy foods; and so, this dish is a regular in our dining table. It’s creamy, fatty and very filling to the tummy. The problem with eating bicol express though, is that it invites us to eat loads and loads of rice. I’m not proud of it; but when this recipe in on our menu, I really tend to gobble up on the carbs. So… just beware.
Enough of the chit-chat! Here’s my latest version of bicol express.
Pork Bicol Express
- 1 kg Pork shoulders cut into small cubes
- 5-7 cloves Garlic crushed and chopped
- 2 whole Onions chopped
- 1 nub Ginger crushed and chopped
- 10 pcs Long green chili
- 400 ml Coconut milk
- 1 ½ tbsp Spicy shrimp paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 pcs Bird’s eye chili Chili flakes (alternative)
- 2-3 tbsp Cooking oil
- Put oil in a heated pan.
- Saute the garlic under medium to high heat.
- When the garlic turns golden, add the onions.
- When the onions sweat, add the ginger. Stir well for 5-7 minutes.
- Put in the pork.
- Fry the pork for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.
- When the pork turns a bit charred and has released its fats, season with shrimp paste.
- Stir well.
- Lower the heat to low.
- Add in the coconut milk.
- Close the lid and let it boil for 30 minutes.
- Stir occasionally to prevent burning the bottom of the pan.
- Add the long green chili.
- After 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
- Add chili flakes for more heat only when desired.
- Serve with hot rice.
Tips and tricks
My Personal Tips for Making the Best Pork Bicol Express
I’ve been cooking Pork Bicol Express for years and have picked up some tips along the way for making it just right:
- Use good quality pork belly that has some fat on it. The fat renders as the pork cooks, keeping it moist and adding flavor.
- Control the spice level by adjusting the amount of chili peppers. I use a combination of long green chilies and small red Thai chilies.
- Let it simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens to a luxurious creamy gravy. Be patient and let the flavors meld.
- Add the shrimp paste towards the end to keep its flavor fresh. A little goes a long way.
- Garnish with sliced green chilies and serve over rice. The rice soaks up the delicious sauce!
Pork Bicol Express really shines when served alongside a bowl of freshly steamed white rice. The rice soaks up the spicy, coconutty sauce, allowing you to enjoy every last drop. Here are some other serving ideas:
- For a complete meal, serve it with a vegetable side dish like okra, eggplant or bitter melon.
- Top with a fried egg for extra richness. The runny yolk mixes deliciously with the sauce.
- Add a side of fresh mangoes or pineapple. Their sweetness balances the spice.
- For parties, provide bowls of rice and let guests self-serve the Pork Bicol Express buffet-style.
- Leftovers make an amazing filling for tacos, sandwiches or omelets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about making this iconic Filipino dish:
Is belly the best cut of pork to use? Yes, pork belly provides the perfect balance of meaty and fatty. The fat keeps the pork moist and luscious.
Can I use chicken instead? You can, but pork really is best. The chicken won’t be as moist or absorb flavors the same way.
What if I can’t find long green chilies? Serrano or jalapeño peppers make a good substitute. Just adjust the quantity based on heat level.
Is shrimp paste absolutely necessary? While optional, the shrimp paste adds a signature salty, umami flavor that I highly recommend.
Can I prepare it ahead of time? Yes, just cook until nearly done then refrigerate. Reheat gently before serving. The flavors continue to develop.
How long does it keep? It will keep refrigerated for 4-5 days. The sauce may thicken, just add a little water when reheating.
Can I freeze any leftovers? Absolutely! Let it cool completely then transfer to freezer bags or containers. It freezes well for up to 3 months.
Time for You to Enjoy Pork Bicol Express!
I hope this post has gotten you excited to make this incredible Filipino dish at home. With its complex blend of spicy, savory and creamy flavors, Pork Bicol Express is a culinary treat that is sure to satisfy. Once you try it, I have no doubt it’ll become a regular in your dinner rotation. Let me know how your Pork Bicol Express turns out!