Spicing up the table with these Bicol delicacies

Spicy, creamy, and sure to make your mouth water!
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The term “adventure” may be used virtually interchangeably with Bicol. It should come as no surprise that Bicol is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines given that it is home to the ever-beautiful Mayon Volcano, towering mountains, flawless white-sand beaches, glistening waterfalls, and amazing scenery.

But much more impressive than all of these outstanding qualities is the food, which stars chilies and coconut milk, sure to make your appetite wild!  Continue reading to learn more about the mouthwatering foods that can be found on a Bicol table. Although you may be acquainted with some of them and have indulged some on several occasions, nothing compares to the real deal, that’s for sure!


Bicol Express in a blue bowl
Photo from Kawaling Pinoy

There is nothing quite like the flavor of a genuine Bicol Express food. Just looking at the name itself, you can already tell that it’s u nquestionably one of Bicol’s most well-known culinary treasures. It is widely available and greatly enjoyed by all Filipinos. Sinilihan is the local term for it in the Bicol area. Rich, creamy, delectable, and deliciously spicy, this dish is made with pork cubes that are simmered in coconut milk and chili peppers. If you accompany this dish with steamed rice, you’ll get a meal that’s not only satisfying but also packed with flavor. You need not worry if you dislike spicy cuisine, since Bicol Express has developed to offer a wide variety of recipes—seafood, vegetables, and a lot more!

Learn a recipe here: https://www.kawalingpinoy.com/bicol-express/


Photo from Wikipedia

The Filipino cuisine known as laing consists of shredded or entire taro leaves that have been cooked with meat or seafood in coconut milk that has been seasoned with shrimp paste, chile, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and ginger. I t is native to the Bicol Region, where the locals refer to it by its more common name, pinangat. The first mouthful you take of this meal is going to blow your mind with all of the flavors it packs! Any on its own or with a cup of steaming white rice, this dish may be enjoyed in either fashion. Laing is often eaten with white rice; however, it may also be used as a filling for other recipes, as well as served jammed in bread like pandesal. 

Laing goes by many names including ginataang laing, pinangat na laing, pinangat na gabi and ginataang gabi. It is claimed that Que Pasa, which can be found in Naga, Camarines Sur, makes a Laing version that first-timers are certain to like, particularly those who aren’t a major lover of foods that are really hot but still want to get the most out of their stay in Bicol.

Learn a recipe here: https://www.yummy.ph/recipe/laing-recipe


Photo from Master Chef .SG

It is common knowledge that Adobo, one of the Philippines’ most-loved and most famous delicacies, comes in a lot of different, yet equally good versions; either depending on a person’s personal preferences or depending on the region. Speaking of which, Bicol has its own adobo variation and it has a taste like no other! Opposite of the traditional adobo we all grew to love, Bicol’s version is somewhat unique. Why? It is because normally, when people hear adobo, a dish with pork chunks covered in brown-colored sauce automatically comes to mind, but for the Bicolanos? A golden-brown adobo is superior! 

Although it can be cooked almost the same way its traditional counterpart is cooked, adobo sa asin is, as its name suggests, flavored with salt instead of soy sauce. In this way, the flavor of the pork is not overpowered by anything, allowing the dish to taste more meaty than usual. What’s more, due to the preserving capabilities of salt, a large amount of this incredible dish (stored in room temperature) can easily be enjoyed by anyone for a couple of days because it can take long before it spoils!



Ginataang Santol (Sinantolan) Recipe - Panlasang Pinoy
Photo from Panlasang Pinoy

If you’ve ever had cotton fruit, you know that it has a flavor that’s somewhere between sweet and sour. It’s one of those fruits with a citrusy flavor that always seems to strike the spot. But, did you know that its thick skin can also be used in certain recipes?  Introducing Sinantolan, commonly known as ginataang santol! It is a cuisine that is typically prepared in the provinces of Bicol, Laguna, and Quezon in the Philippines. The primary ingredients that go into its creation are grated santol fruit rinds, chilies, shrimp paste, onion, garlic, and coconut cream. A lemony, salty, and savory flavor profile, with a bit of a kick from the spice, is what the taste is commonly described as. Although adding chilli is not required, it is generally acknowledged that the chilis play a vital part in the overall flavor of this meal. An even more powerful taste may be achieved by also using meats and seafood in the dish.

Learn a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/ginataang-santol-sinantolan-recipe/


Kandingga - Ang Sarap
Photo from Ang Sarap

Kandingga is the counterpart dish to bopis in the Bicol region. This meal, which is made using pig innards, is prepared in a manner that is comparable to that of the traditional bopis. Pigs’ hearts, lungs, and spleens, along with other organs, are used in this recipe. The Bicolanos have, of course, given it their own touch by cooking it in coconut milk and adding a boat load of chili. This is how they’ve made their cuisine stand out from others. Hence, it is more similar to a fusion of bopis and Bicol express; however, in kandingga, instead of the annatto seeds that give bopis its crimson hue, kandingga uses coconut cream, which gives it a brownish or occasionally off-white appearance. 

Learn a recipe here: https://www.angsarap.net/2018/10/08/kandingga/


A picture containing dish

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Photo from Rice n Dine

Kusido has been lovingly referred to as the sinigang of the Bicol area. This dish is a close relative of the more well-known sinigang and is a soup-based meal that features talbos ng kamote, also known as sweet potato leaves, and fish as the primary ingredients. It is possible to make kusido using almost any kind of fish, although malasugui, red snappers (also called maya-maya in the area), and groupers (locally known as lapu-lapu) are the most popular kinds of fish found in recipes for kusido. In contrast to the more prevalent sinigang, which normally employs tamarind as the primary source of its sour flavor, kusido relies on calamansi, also known as Philippine lime, as its primary souring agent. This results in kusido having less of a tangy bite, but it is still a fantastic sour soup nevertheless. Because it is a hot and hearty soup, Bicolanos get a warm and fuzzy feeling when they think of this meal being served during the colder months.

Learn a recipe here: https://ricendine.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/fish-kusido/


Sinapot - Lutong Bahay Recipe
Photo from Lutong Bahay Recipe

A lot of people in Bicol like munching on this delicious snack. These are saba bananas that have been cut in half lengthwise and then dipped in a batter before being deep fried.   Sinapot, on the other hand, does not have a sugar coating as Maruya does. In point of fact, some Bicolanos put bagoong on their sinapot before eating it. Before being cooked, sliced bananas are hooked side by side on the spine of a coconut leaf that has been scraped out. This gives the dish its literal name, dinikit-dikit, which translates to “sinapot.”

Learn a recipe here: https://www.lutongbahayrecipe.com/snacks/sinapot/ 


Photo from Karen Vibar Bolanos

If someone who did not grow up in the rich area of Bicolandia or someone who does not know much about Bicol—particularly about the region’s inexplicably good cuisines—will see binutong for the first time, they would probably be weirded out and confused. Why? You see, this special delicacy might look “suspicious” at first glance because of its outer appearance: a piece of banana leaf tied with itself to wrap around something inside. And once it is opened, the suspicion might grow because what’s inside the banana leaf appears to be sticky, oily, and watery. But thankfully, binutong (pronounced as binu-tong) is one of the many things that will surely remind people about the famous quote, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Why? Well, first is because binutong can be considered as a top-tier merienda and second, once they get a taste of it, any adversary first impression will surely change into a more positive and welcoming opinion. 

However, before one starts to make assumptions about how it tastes, they must keep in mind that this merienda is not one bit sweet. Binutong is purely made of malagkit or glutinous rice, salt, coconut milk, and sometimes, sugar. All of these ingredients are mixed together inside a tied banana leaf and then the pouch-like product will be cooked through boiling water. Once cooked, one can eat it as it is or they can dip it in sugar to balance the flavors as well as to somewhat turn down the oiliness brought by the coconut milk. What’s more is that, apart from being a top-tier snack, it can also be eaten at breakfast and is best paired with a steamy cup of tablea hot chocolate drink; or any hot chocolate drink, really!

Learn a recipe here: https://nolisoli.ph/99760/binutong-recipe-bicol-aya-cabauatan/


Backpacking Pilipinas: DJC Halo Halo, Tiwi, Albay
Photo from Backpacking Pilipinas 

The Halo-Halo dessert, which is popular throughout the Philippines, also has a version that is popular in Bicol, and it is prepared in a slightly different way. The Tiwi Halo-Halo that is served in Bicol is the ideal dessert to savor while fighting the heat, particularly if you are roaming around Bicol’s tourist destinations. The inclusion of shredded cheese and coconut milk, which is the star ingredient in the majority of Bicol dishes, makes this rendition of halo-halo far more creamy and sweeter than the traditional version. DJC Halo-Halo is believed to serve the best Tiwi Halo-Halo so if you’re around Albay, hunt down the shop at 330 San Lorenzo Street, Tiwi, Albay.

Bicol is a wonderful destination with even more wonderful cuisine. If you like your meals with a healthy dose of heat, this is likely to be just up your alley.

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