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.
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.
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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