Bicol Express is perhaps one of the country's most popular dishes. It draws its inspiration from traditional Bicolano cooking which is characterized by the generous application of coconut milk and chili peppers. If you want to know more about the history of this hot dish, you can read about it on this other blog post.
Like many popular Philippine culinary creations, there are countless versions of this recipe. This one is from Jan's Bicolano co-worker and unlike the toned down versions, this has little meat and has no Baguio or string beans. Instead, it's chock-full of chilies and incorporates salted shrimp fry.
2 cups pecante chilies, chopped
½ cup minced garlic
2 cups coconut milk
½ cup minced ginger
1 cup salted shrimp fry
½ cup bird's eye chilies, finely chopped
¾ cup pork fat, thinly sliced
1. Pour coconut milk in wok at medium heat.
2. Add ginger and garlic and let it stand for 2 mins.
3. Add the chopped chilies.
4. After 3 minutes add the pork fat.
5. After 2 minutes add the shrimp fry.
6. Add salt to taste. The amount of salt to add should depend on the saltiness of the shrimp fry.
7. Remove from heat while there is still a little of the coconut milk left.
Wife's Verdict: HOT!
Jan's Quip: "I've brought grown men to tears with my cooking."