• Adam Liaw's Bicol express (Adam Liaw)Source: Adam Liaw

A fiery stew of pork belly, coconut and chilli, I prefer to keep my version a little more tame with large red and green chillies, and leave the heat of the bird’s eyes up to the individual.






Skill level

Average: 3.9 (43 votes)

Known as sinilihan in the Bikol province of the Philippines, Bicol Express was popularised in Manila and named after the train that runs between Manila and Bikol.


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500 g pork belly, skin-on, cut into 2-cm cubes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp Filipino shrimp paste (bagoong), or 60 ml fish sauce
  • 400 ml coconut cream
  • 5 long red chillies, cut into 1-cm pieces, or to taste
  • 5 long green chillies, cut into 1-cm pieces, or to taste
  • salt, or fish sauce, to taste
  • thinly sliced red and green bird’s eye chillies, for garnish
  • lime wedges, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan over high heat. Fry the pork belly until lightly browned. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until the onion is soft.
  2. Add the shrimp paste, coconut cream and about 250 ml (1 cup) water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, partially cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until reduced by about half.
  3. Add the sliced long chillies and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt or fish sauce to taste, then serve garnished with extra red and green chillies and lime wedges on the side.


Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.

Photography by Adam Liaw.