(Stewed Pork in Spicy Coconut Cream)
Bicol Express combines the creaminess of coconut milk with the fieriness of chili – two classic staples of Bicolano cuisine. Although it’s said that Cely Kalaw – an accomplished cook and recipe author who ran her own restaurant in Malate – originated this dish, many believe that this is an authentic Bicolano recipe.
Bicolanos insist that you make the dish as spicy as you can handle and to use coconut cream (kakang gata) which is obtained from the first press of mature coconut.
If you wish, use Barrio Fiesta Bagoong Spicy instead of Bagoong Regular to give your dish the extra spicy-umami kick. You may also toast some of your chilis with the onions, garlic, and ginger to intensify the dish’s spiciness – or add them later to the coconut cream to give the dish a milder zing.
For best results, simmer the dish instead of boiling so the coconut will not curdle.
1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 onion, cut into thin slices
1 ½ tbsp. minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 small knob of ginger, thinly sliced
1 kg pork belly or shoulder, cubed or cut into 1-inch strips
2 tbsp. Barrio Fiesta Bagoong Spicy or Regular
1 cups fresh coconut cream (kakang gata) or coconut milk
1 cup water
6 red chili peppers, sliced, seeds removed – as little or as many as you can handle
3 green finger chilis (siling haba), sliced, seeds removed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 green finger chili, for the garnish
- In a heated wok or pot, sauté onion, garlic, and ginger in oil.
- Add your preferred Barrio Fiesta bagoong (Spicy or Regular), letting it toast for about 2 minutes; then mix it with other sautéed ingredients.
- Add pork cubes or strips and allow them to brown.
- Pour in the water and coconut milk and add all the chilis.
- Simmer gently till pork is tender; season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour into a platter and garnish with sliced green chili. Serves 4.
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