Fillipino Mains – Bicol Express

Bicol Express is another very popular dish enjoyed by the Filipino community. Best described as a spicy, creamy and fragrant pork stew. It was introduced to my home by Shirley who is a Filipina helper with my daughter. I must attest to its popularity with several Singaporean families who have been fortunate enough to have tasted it. At one of my dinner parties it was the first dish to finished and was highly complimented.

Some comments on the Ingredients

All the ingredients shown in the above photo are common items except for the Cincalok (fermented krill, used in Korean as well as several South East Asian cuisines). The most common vegetable used in Bicol Express would be long beans. I had run out of long beans but I had some celery stalks on hand. Use a combination of both red and green chillies (de-seeded) for a brighter colour dish.

Preparation 

STEP 1. Prepare the Belly Pork marinade. Place the cleaned and sliced chunks of lean belly pork into a plastic bag and pour in the seasoning. Gently massage the marinade into the Pork chunks just to distribute evenly. Tie bag and refrigerate till you are ready to cook.

HINT: place the plastic bag on top of a dish to prevent mess from possible leaks in plastic bag.

STEP 2. Meanwhile, blend chopped onions, cincalok ( fermented krill) and coconut cream to make a fine Spice Paste. Set aside this blended paste.

STEP 3. it is my normal habit to gather all the prepared ingredients on a tray or next to the stove where I will be cooking the dish.

HINT: good habit to instill in your helper.

COOKING Bicol Express

STEP 1. Heat the wok/ large saucepan for a few seconds over medium heat, add cooking oil and heat it. Add Spice Paste and cook until aromatic, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until it begins to brown slightly. If it looks a little dry ( as shown in photo) just drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of water.

STEP 2.  Add the seasoned pork. Continue to stir fry over medium heat for 2 to 3 mins. Add the cup of water, mix and simmer covered for about 30 minutes. Lift cover to stir occasionally to prevent scorching. You want the pork chunks become tender and turn light brown.

STEP 3.  At this stage, add coconut cream and long beans ( if you using long beans which take longer to cook than celery). Continue to cook for perhaps 15 to 20 minutes or until pork is tender, and sauce begins to render fat.

STEP 4. Since I like my celery a crunchy, I added them into the wok only after the pork chunks were tender. Give it a quick stir for a minute or 2. Plate dish and serve with rice.

RECIPE

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

500 gm skinless and lean pork belly, cut into medium sized chunks.

  • Belly Pork marinade (at least 1 hr or over night in fridge)
    1.5 Tbsp Apple Cider vinegar
    1 tsp sugar
    Half tsp salt
    Half tsp ground white pepper

2 tablespoons oil

  • Spice Paste
    1 large purple onion, peel and chopped
    6 cloves garlic, peel and chopped
    3 Tbsp chinchalok or 1 Tbsp shrimp paste

About 1 cup water
200 ml coconut santan

300 gm fresh long beans, washed n cut into 5 to 6 cm sections.

12 to 14 red n green chillies, seeded and sliced diagonally

Preparation

1.  Prepare the Belly Pork marinade. Place the cleaned and sliced chunks of lean belly pork into a plastic bag and pour in the seasoning. Gently massage the marinade into the Pork chunks just to distribute evenly. Tie bag and refrigerate till you are ready to cook.
2.  Meanwhile, blend chopped onions, cincalok (fermented krill) and coconut cream to make a fine Spice Paste. Set aside this blended paste.

Cooking Bicol Express

  1. Heat the wok/ large saucepan for a few seconds over medium heat, add cooking oil and heat it. Add Spice Paste and cook until aromatic, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until it begins to brown slightly. If it looks a little dry ( as shown in photo) just drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of water.
  2. Add the seasoned pork. Continue to stir fry over medium heat for 2 to 3 mins. Add the cup of water, mix and simmer covered for about 30 minutes. Lift cover to stir occasionally to prevent scorching. You want the pork chunks become tender and turn light brown.
  3.  At this stage, add coconut cream and long beans ( if you using long beans which take longer to cook than celery). Continue to cook for perhaps 15 to 20 minutes or until pork is tender, and sauce begins to render fat.
  4. Since I like my celery a crunchy, I added them into the wok only after the pork chunks were tender. Give it a quick stir for a minute or 2. Plate dish and serve with rice.

Serve hot With rice and vegetables.

Serving Suggestions

Fancy a bowl of hot nourishing soup? Green Papaya Soup is commonly served in the Philippines (not restricted to just their confinement).  Click here

Guests are coming! From the numerous recipes which have already been posted, may I suggest these complimetray dishes. Remind your helper to use those ingredients that are already in the fridge, freezer or larder first.

Meat Dishes

1.Chicken Adobo. Click here.

2. Paper Wrapped Chicken (Baked). Click here

3. Pari Pari Style Chicken Wings. Click here.

Seafood Dishes

1. Dry Assam Seafood. Click here

 2. Prawns with Tomato Sauce. Click here.

Vegetable Dishes

1. Pork, Spinach and Egg Stir Fry. Click here

2. Broccoli and Meat or Tofu Stir Fry. Click here

9. Shanghai cabbage with Oyster Sauce and Garlic. Click here

You may like to end this meal with a plate of cold, freshly cut seasonal fruits. Perhaps you had time to make a dessert like one of those listed below? Any of them may be made a day or 2 ahead of time and is most suited to our hot tropical climate.

1. Almond Jelly + Longans Click here.

2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.

3. Caramel Custard ( known to the Filipinos as Leche Flan). Click here.

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