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Bicol Express

Bicol express is a Filipino Pork belly dish made by sautéing seared pork belly in a creamy sauce made with coconut milk, onion, garlic, ginger, shrimp paste, pepper, green chillies and oil. Spices like shrimp paste, pepper, green chillies are added to Bicol express to enhance aroma and taste. With its distinctive feature of being a creamy and spicy dish, bicol express is known natively in Bicol as “sinilihan” meaning “added with a lot of chillies”. Bicol express might be the dish you are looking for! Enjoy this creamy and spicy melt-in-your-mouth pork belly dish with rice or with a beer!

Bicol express


Bicol express is a rich, creamy and spicy pork dish braised in coconut-based sauce made unique with shrimp paste. It is a perfect food of choice for the spicy-lovers. With its distinctive creamy and spicy character, bicol express is known natively in Bicol as “sinilihan” meaning “added with a lot of chillies”.

In contrary to its name, the Bicol express was actually popularized in the district of Malate, Manila. This dish was invented by a restaurant owner named Cecilia Villanueva Kalaw. And to a surprising fact, Tita Cely was a native of Laguna. OMG! Too many places! But why it is called Bicol Express? Bicol express is made in traditional Bicolano style using coconut cream and chilies. Tita Cely named this dish after the name of a train that passes their house which travels from Manila to Bicol.

Bicol express has evolved to having more meat with less chili to be enjoyed by the people with low tolerance to spicy flavor. The spiciness level depends on your preference. More spicy = more tough. But of course, what’s more important is you enjoy every bite of this dish.

Bicol express


Bicol express is a one-pot dish which is very easy to make. Start by searing the pork. Do this in batches to maintain the temperature of the pan and oil. Set the pork aside and make the savoury sauce base by sautéing the aromatics and the shrimp paste. It is best to use fresh shrimp paste (but I used sautéed in this one, haha). Add the seared pork back to the pan and coat it with the sauce. Simmer the pork using the thin coconut milk. The thin coconut milk is the “pangalawang piga” of the niyog. You can also make this by mixing half-part water and half-part pure coconut milk.

When the pork is tender, add the chili and the thick coconut milk. The thick coconut milk is the “unang piga” o the niyog. It is creamier than the thin coconut milk. The last thing to do is to let it simmer until the sauce is reduced. Most people like their bicol express at the point where the coconut milk is already rendering its oil. Make sure to prepare a lot of hot steaming rice before serving the bicol express. Enjoy!

Bicol Express

Course: Pork Recipes




  • 1 kilo pork belly (cut into serving pieces)

  • 1 cup thin coconut milk

  • 1 cup thick coconut milk

  • 1 medium-sized onion (chopped)

  • 5 cloves of garlic (minced)

  • 1 thumb-sized ginger (chopped)

  • 3 tablespoons shrimp paste

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • green chillies (sliced)

  • oil (for sautéing)


  • Heat some oil in a pan. Sear the pork belly until light brown. Flip the pieces to sear the other side. Set aside.
  • Sauté the ginger, onion and garlic for a few seconds until aromatic. Add the sautéed shrimp paste and sauté for a minute. Add the seared pork belly and gently toss to coat with the sauce. Season with pepper.
  • Add the thin coconut milk and stir to cover the meat. Cover the pan and let is simmer using medium-low heat until pork is tender.
  • After 25 minutes, add the chopped chillies and the thick coconut milk. Stir gently and lower the heat to prevent the coconut milk from curdling. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the sauce is thicker.
  • When the sauce is reduced, the bicol express is now ready to be served.
  • Transfer the bicol express to a serving plate and enjoy with unli rice!

Watch how to Cook Bicol Express

Paano Magluto ng Bicol Express


  • 1 kilo pork belly (hiwain sa serving pieces)
  • 1 tasa ng unang piga ng niyog
  • 1 tasa ng pangalawang piga ng niyog
  • 1 sibuyas (hiniwa)
  • 5 butil ng bawang (hiniwa ng maliliit)
  • 1 luya (hiniwa)
  • 3 kutsara ng alamang
  • ½ kutsarita ng paminta
  • siling pangsigang (hiniwa)
  • mantika (pang-gisa)
How to cook Bicol express


  1. Magpainit ng mantika at igisa ang pork belly hanggang maging light brown. Baliktarin ang mga ito para maluto ang kabilang side. Isantabi.
  2. Igisa ang luya, sibuyas at bawang ng ilang segundo. Ilagay ang alamang at igisa ng isang minuto. Ilagay ang pork belly at haluin ng dahan-dahan hanggang malagyan ng sauce. Budburan ng paminta.
  3. Ilagay ang pangalawang piga ng niyog at haluin. Takpan ang kawali at hayaan itong maluto gamit ang katamtamang-mababang apoy hanggang lumambot ang baboy.
  4. Pagkatapos ng 25 minuto, ilagay ang hiniwang sili at ang unang piga ng niyog. Haluin ito ng mabuti at babaan ang apoy para hindi magbuobuo ang gata. Hayaan itong maluto ng 8 hanggang 10 minuto hanggang lumapot ang sabaw.
  5. Kapag malapot na ang sabaw, ready na ang iyong bicol express.
  6. Ilagay ang bicol express sa isang serving plate at ienjoy kasama ang mainit na kanin!

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