Friday, June 21, 2013

Bicol Express

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Bicol Express may sound like a train which is about to steamroll you into smithereens but is in reality a spicy pork dish from the Bicol region of the Philippines. The history of the dish is detailed in the blog Panlasang Pinoy and was the main inspiration as to why I dared to cook this spicy dish. Given my low tolerance for spicy food, I came up with a much milder version which might cause a few to complain but generated a round of thanks to those who came to dinner yesterday. As such, I adapted the recipe from this blog which uses deseeded chilis and no shrimp paste. This is my first foray into the dishes from this part of the country known for their spiciness but this is one trip that was worth repeating. 

I'm not sure of the actual variety of chili peppers I used for this dish but jalapeno peppers will do quite nicely if they are available. We did away with using Thai chili knowing full well how potent they are. As such, the heat from the dish was almost like an aftertaste and hit the back of your throat a few seconds later but in a good way. The original dish called for shrimp paste too which we did away with because some of my friends are allergic to shellfish. Overall, the absence of this condiment was barely missed. 

Bicol Express - Adapted*

2 lbs pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
2 stalks lemongrass, twisted into a knot
3 cups fresh coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
12 finger chilis, deseeded and diced
salt and pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onions 
    and ginger and saute until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Throw 
    in the lemongrass and mix for one minute.

2. Add the pork into the pan and cook until it loses its pink color. Season with
    salt and pepper. 

3. Pour the coconut milk and add the chilis and bring to a boil. Once boiling, 
    lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered for about 30 minutes. Check
    and make sure that the pork does not stick to the pan. 

4. Season with the fish sauce and continue to simmer until the pork is very 
    tender. Check for flavor and adjust accordingly with salt and pepper.

5. Serve hot with steamed rice.

*Feast Asia: Bicol Express.

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