Kitchen Notes: Bicol Express Recipe

Click to know where to eat and how to make this feisty Bicolano specialty.

A front liner among the popular dishes of the Philippines is Bicol Express— a stew of chili, pork, coconut milk, and balao (salted baby shrimps). Debates are still on going as to where this dish originated but one thing is for sure: Bicol Express is not for the faint of heart, or in this case, tongue.

Is your palate up for the challenge? Read on to see where to eat and how to make this feisty Bicolano specialty.

When in Bicol, first-timers are advised to pay Bob Marlin Restaurant and Grill a visit. This homey restaurant located along Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City is known for serving a smorgasbord of Bicolano dishes. Go there for their Bicol Express, "a hot medley of balaw (salted shrimp fry) and pineapple that will send tongues a-wagging."

But one does not need to travel to Bicol in order to sample this feisty viand. When in Manila and craving Bicol Express, check out Pen Pen Restaurant and Adarna Food and Culture for a tongue-numbing dining experience.

Or you might wanna try doing this dish at home. Check out this easy Bicol Express recipe by a Bicolano chef from the Cafe Jeepney.

Bicol Express (Balao)


1 tablespoon- balao/salted baby shrimps (dissolved in water for 30 mins.)
1 kilogram- pork (sliced)
2 cloves- garlic (chopped)
4 pieces- finger chili/ siling haba
3 glasses- coconut milk
1 tablespoon- ginger (chopped)
1 bulb- onion (chopped)and salt and pepper to taste


1.    Boil the coconut milk, stirring constantly.
2.    Add the garlic, onion, ginger, pork and balao. Season with salt and pepper.
3.    Bring to a boil until the sauce thickens and add the siling haba.

For a taste of other popular Bicolano delicacies such as Pininyahang Manok, Sugpo with Curry, Laing, Pancit Bato, Paksiw na Tambakol sa Santol and Daet’s famous miniature pineapples and pili nuts, visit Café Jeepney. The food festival is available daily for lunch and dinner buffet-style from September 3 to 30, 2012.

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