How to Cook Filipino Bicol Express

Bicol Express is a tantalizing pork stew, combining the richness of coconut milk (gata) with shrimp paste (bagoong alamang), and an abundance of chilies for a creamy yet fiery combination.

This pork stew is the perfect combination of spiciness and gentle sweetness, designed to please even the most discerning palates. With its carefully balanced flavors, Filipinos simply cannot resist this delicious dish! Bicol Express is pure comfort food! With pork cubes cooked in coconut milk and chili peppers, it’s rich, creamy, spicy and delicious. Serve with steamed rice for a hearty and big-flavoured meal!

Also Read: How to Cook Filipino Oxtail Kare Kare

Boiling fatty pork cuts such as shoulder and belly in coconut milk alongside chili peppers, spices, and other ingredients result in the delectable Bicol Express recipe. It’s an easy assumption to make that the iconic Bicol express dish hails from Bicol, considering it is home to similar dishes and their tasty love for spicy food.

If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, Bicol Express is a fantastic dish to explore and experiment with! Traditionally made with pork belly, this delicious recipe can be enhanced by switching up its main component – there are plenty of other variations that will make your version unique.

If you want to tantalize your taste buds, why not experiment with different parts of the pork? A popular option is swapping out pork for seafood like shrimp, squid or mussels. You can also select a leaner alternative that still tastes amazing by opting for chicken as an alternative to fattier meats.

Bicol Express


  • Stir 1 tablespoon of canola oil into the mixture for a richer flavor.
  • Gently peel and thinly slice one onion to perfection.
  • Peel and mince 4 cloves of garlic for a flavorful addition to your dish.
  • Utilize two lbs. of pork belly, diced into 1-inch cubes for the best results.
  • Two tablespoons of freshly-made shrimp paste
  • To complete the recipe, you’ll need one can (13.5 ounces) of coconut milk.
  • For this recipe, you’ll need 1 cup of water to get started.
  • To infuse that signature Thai flavor, incorporate fourteen chili peppers; make sure to de-stem and mince each pepper for optimal taste!
  • Slice 2 cups of finger chilies (siling haba) for the perfect accompaniment to any dish.
  • 1 cup of creamy, delicious coconut cream
  • Enhance the flavor with a sprinkle of salt and pepper to your preference.

Steps to Cook Bicol Express

  • In a wide pot, warm the oil over medium heat.
  • Sautee onions and garlic until softened, stirring every so often to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  • Gently sauté the pork until it is lightly browned, stirring occasionally for even cooking.
  • Stir in the shrimp paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Blend the coconut milk, water and chili peppers until you achieve a simmer. Simmer for around 35 to 40 minutes or until the pork is soft and the liquid has reduced while gradually producing fat.
  • Sautee finger chilies for one to two minutes, stirring regularly until fully cooked.
  • Keep simmering until the mixture thickens and starts to produce oil, adding coconut cream periodically.
  • Generously season with salt and pepper for a flavorful kick. Serve piping hot for maximum taste pleasure!

How to Serve

Enjoy Bicol express as a scrumptious main course for lunch or dinner with steamed rice, providing the perfect backdrop to its delectable and fiery flavors.

There are several Bicol express versions out there. This recipe revolves around the pork version, however, you can also enjoy beef, seafood, and vegetable variations. Each variation provides a unique flavor depending on its main ingredient!

  • If you’re looking for an effortless way to savor the exotic flavors of Bicol Express, then Pork Bicol Express is your answer! Not only does it require minimal preparation time, but its delectable taste will have you craving more.
  • Experience a delectable twist on the traditional Bicol Express with our Seafood version! Quick and easy to prepare, this variation includes succulent shrimp, squid, and mussels that will tantalize your taste buds.
  • If you don’t consume pork or have limited access to it, Beef Bicol Express is the perfect solution for you. It’s made with beef chuck and tastes just as delicious!

whatever protein you use for your Bicol express, you can be sure that it will be a delicious, savory and spicy dish that will make your mouth water! So why not try these variations of Bicol express today? You won’t regret it! Enjoy!

Enjoy the flavorful wonders of Bicol Express by experimenting with various types of proteins. From pork to chicken, beef to seafood – each version is guaranteed to tantalize your taste buds with its unique flavors. With minimal ingredients and preparation time, you can easily whip up an exotic dish that will leave an unforgettable impression on your taste buds.

Bicol Express meal


  • As the coconut milk causes this flavorful pork stew to spoil more quickly, be sure to transfer any remaining portions into a sealed container and store in the refrigerator for no longer than 3 days.
  • Experiment with freezing for up to two months; however, the sauce might appear grainy after thawing. Although it won’t compromise taste or safety, you may notice a difference in appearance.
  • Revive your dish in a saucepan over moderate-low heat until it reaches 165 F, or microwave it for 2 to 3 minutes until completely warmed up.
  • To make slicing more hassle-free, freeze the pork belly until it has become partially solid.
  • When heated too quickly, coconut milk can separate and curdle; so for the best result – a smooth and creamy sauce – gently simmer your mixture!
  • For extra nutrition, you can add cut sigarilyas, long beans (sitaw), or string beans to your dish.
  • As evidenced by the nutritional facts below, this recipe won’t do your waist any favors.
  • Delicious pork belly cubes and a creamy coconut sauce come at the cost of calories. If you’d prefer to consume fewer calories, Consider choosing a leaner cut of meat, like pork shoulder. Or, if you’d prefer an alternative to pork, boneless and skinless chicken is always an option!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Bicol Express?

Bicol Express is a popular Filipino dish made with pork or chicken cooked in coconut milk and bay leaves, then spiced up with chilies, garlic, onions and other spices. It’s served with steamed white rice.

2. How do you make Bicol Express?

To make Bicol Express, start by heating oil in a saucepan and sautéing garlic and onion until fragrant. Then add pork (or chicken) cubes to the pan and cook until lightly browned. Once the meat is cooked, add coconut milk, bay leaves, chilies and other seasonings. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Serve with steamed white rice and enjoy!

3. What variations of Bicol Express are there?

There is a variety of different versions of Bicol Express, depending on the main ingredient used. You can find pork, beef, seafood and vegetable variations. Each one provides its own unique flavor experience.

4. Is Bicol Express healthy?

Bicol Express can be a rich and flavorful dish, but it is high in calories due to the use of pork belly and coconut milk. To keep it healthy, you can opt for leaner cuts of meat like chicken or even seafood. You can also add vegetables to your dish for added nutrition.

5. How long can Bicol Express be stored?

Due to the coconut milk, it’s best to store any remaining portions of Bicol Express in the refrigerator for no longer than 3 days or freeze for up to two months. Reheat in a saucepan over moderate-low heat until it reaches 165 F or microwave for 2-3 minutes until completely warmed up. Enjoy!

Filipino Bicol Express


Bicol Express is a popular Filipino dish that packs plenty of flavor from its unique combination of pork (or chicken), coconut milk and spices. You can also experiment with various proteins such as beef, seafood or vegetables for an even more exciting taste experience. To make sure you get the most out of your meal without adding too many calories, opt for leaner cuts like chicken or add some extra veggies to your dish. With minimal ingredients and preparation time, this delicious recipe won’t take long to whip up – so why not give it a try? You won’t regret it! Enjoy!