Bicol Express is a popular Filipino dish named after the train that used to ply the Manila-Bicol route. Bicol is a region in Southern Luzon. Elsewhere in the Philippines, Bicol Express is served as a mix of vegetables stewed in gata (coconut milk) and bagoong (shrimp paste) with a bit of chili.
Authentic Bicol Express, however, is pork (ground or cubes) stewed in gata, bagoong, and a lot of chili. The Bicol region is known for their spicy gata dishes and the Bicol Express is the most popular one.
During my trip to Legaspi, Albay last October, my first meal was Bicol Express at Gilian’s Seafood Wharf. And it was hot, hot, hot. It was too spicy for my palate. But the spicyness did not overpower the dish. I could still taste the saltiness of the bagoong, the richness of the gata, and the pork flavor. Eventhough, it was more spicy than what I am used to, I couldn’t stop eating it. It was definitely delicious.
The Bicol Express is best eaten with rice. Lots of rice. And some soda. Ice cold water just isn’t enough to wash down the spicy Bicol Express.
I had even more Bicol Express, Laing, and Pinangat in the coming days. If you’re not too fond of spicy food, remember that in Bicol when they say something is “not spicy,” that means it’s mildly spicy. And “mildly spicy food” is “very spicy” for those who are not used to the Bicol food.
When in Legaspi, visit the Embarcadero de Legaspi mall. They have a row of restaurants serving various Bicol and seafood dishes. We ate at Gillian’s Seafood Wharf. Their Bicol Express is superb.
Gillian’s Seafood Wharf on Foursquare: LINKbicol express • embarcadero de legaspi • gillians seafood wharf