Monday, September 5, 2011

The Hot and Spicy Bicol Express

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Bicol is located in the southeastern tip of Luzon island in the Philippines. There are several volcanoes in the province and Mt. Mayon which surpasses most mountains in splendor and beauty being the only mountain almost a perfect cone in shape. It is the most prominent and active volcano in the country and is said to be one of the most famous jewels in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Bicol is also known for their local handicrafts and lately, due to the popularity of water sports in the region, CamSur Water Sports Complex designed for wakeboarding, water skiing and wakeskating, has been a popular destination for all water sports enthusiasts and is even a common place to go for whale shark spotting. Moreover, Bicolano’s (people who hail from Bicol) are known for their love of spicy food.

There was a food stall in our local supermarket that sold homemade and home cooked specialties from Bicol and one such specialty was Bicol express. History indicates that the origin of Bicol express was from a woman named Cely Kalaw who is a native of Laguna but when she was only three years old, she moved to Naga, Bicol and grew up there. She was then exposed to the cooking style of the Bicolanos. With adapting the Bicolano approach in preparing food, she then came up with the dish we now all know as Bicol express. She introduced this dish in her restaurant located in Malate, Manila called the Grove Restaurant. It said have been named after the train that travels from Paco train station to Bicol.

Bicol express is said to have been derived from a popular Bicolano dish called Gulay na Lada (gulay means vegetables in Tagalog and Lada means Indonesian/Malay), only it was made popular and known for as Bicol Express. It is made from pork belly strips, garlic, onions, ginger coconut cream (as with all Bicolano dishes) turmeric, bagoong (shrimp paste) and a lot (I really mean a lot) of green finger chili. It’s a simple dish that just involves sautéing all the ingredients together until cooked. What made it intriguing for me when I was younger was how spicy it was. I used to eat it to show my parents just how brave I was to be able to withstand the almost painful heat in my mouth when eating it, but as I got older, I got to appreciate the distinct element of heat in my dishes. And I tend to find most dished that are not spicy lacking in flavor.

Bicol express is now a common dish served in almost every Filipino household brave enough to take the heat.

3 Response to The Hot and Spicy Bicol Express

January 28, 2016 at 7:24 PM

importance of bicol express

January 28, 2016 at 7:24 PM

importance of bicol express

January 28, 2016 at 7:26 PM

importance of bicol express

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