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.