Chicken Bicol Express is a Filipino stew dish that is cooked in coconut milk, ginger, garlic, and onion. The shrimp paste is added for saltiness while green chilies give a mild spiciness to this dish.
In the Philippines, it is rare to find local foods that are spicy since we prefer sweet-savory dishes. Spicy dishes are mostly found in other neighboring countries like Thai, Malaysian or Indonesian cuisines.
However, I come across a Filipino food stall where they sell this spicy chicken dish called Bicol Express. I was curious about this dish which I order it which I find it delicious.
Aside from Chicken Adobo, this is one of my favorite Filipino stew dishes. That is because it reminds me of Thai cuisines since it contains coconut milk and it is spicy.
What is Bicol Express?
It is a Filipino stew meat dish that is a mix of sweet, salty, and spicy. The saltiness comes from the shrimp paste called Bagoong, and sweetness comes from the coconut milk. Lastly, the spiciness comes from the green chilies
This recipe was originally introduced by Cely Kalaw, a Filipino resident, during the cooking competition in Manila. It is kind of confusing because some claim this dish is from Bicol, which they called Bikol as sinilihan. I was told by the locals that name this food based on the Philippine National Railway route when traveling between Manila and the city in Bicol.
There are many versions of this dish since you can use pork or other meat. But, in this recipe, I will show you my version which is easy and delicious.
Here are the ingredients I am using to make my version of Chicken Bicol Express:
MEAT: I am using chopped chicken breast since it is boneless and it is easier to cook. I don't add chicken with bones like drumstick since this will take time to cook, and the coconut milk will just evaporate.
CONDIMENTS: The shrimp paste and fish sauce is one of the two important condiments you need to add a good flavor to this dish. Without them, this recipe might taste underwhelming.
CHILIES: In this recipe, I am using green chilies to add a bit of spiciness to my chicken dish. Also, I am not using the red Siling Labuyo since it is too spicy, and I prefer mild only.
COCONUT MILK: The coconut milk will be used instead of water when simmering the chicken and the rest of the ingredients. It makes the sauce thick and creamy.
- To make this recipe, I first add vegetable oil to the pan. Once it turns hot, add garlic & ginger followed by onion. Stir till it turns translucent.
- Next, I add the chopped chicken breast, which I stir to combine before I added the shrimp paste. And then, I pour the coconut milk, which I let simmer for 10 minutes before I add the fish sauce.
- Lastly, I add the chopped green chilies and then I continue simmering for another 5 minutes before turning off the heat. This serves best with white rice.
- Instead of Chicken, you use shrimp, fish, or pork
- For vegan friendly, you can use tofu or shitake mushroom and replace shrimp paste with soy sauce.
- You can use any type of green or red chilies for this recipe
- You can use coconut cream instead of coconut milk. But, because the sauce might be too thick, add ¼ cup of water.
Question and Answer
1. What kind of Bagoóng I am using in this recipe?
I am using a shrimp paste Bagoong for my recipe. Also, this is a classic version, meaning it is not a sweet or spicy version. In the store, you will find the classic, sweet and spicy version.
2. Is Chicken Bicol Express healthy?
This recipe is high in protein. However, coconut milk contains high saturated fat, while shrimp paste is high in sodium and uric acid. Nonetheless, it is a delicious dish, and making this dish once a week is fine.
3. What do you serve this dish with?
Other Filipino Chicken Stew Recipes
If you love Bicol Express, here are other delicious Filipino chicken stew recipes that you can make at home:
- 500 gram of chicken breast
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon of shrimp paste (Bagoong)
- 5 green chilies
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- Salt and Black Pepper for taste
- In medium heat, add vegetable oil in a large pan. Once hot, add ginger and garlic. Stir for less than a minute
- Add chopped red onion. Stir till it turns translucent
- Add chopped chicken breast. Stir till there is less juice.
- Add shrimp paste and mix to combine
- Pour coconut milk and cover with the lid. Let it simmer in low heat for 5 to 10 minutes
- Add fish sauce and green chilies. Continue simmering for 5 more minutes
- Season with black pepper or salt before turning off the heat.
- Serve with white rice.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 332Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 115mgSodium 981mgCarbohydrates 11gFiber 1gSugar 4gProtein 43g