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Homecooking Recipe for a Healthier Bicol Express

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Bicol Express is a well-loved Bicolano dish by spicy food lovers all over the Philippines. It’s made predominantly of fatty pork slices and chili, with its spiciness toned done by the creamy coconut milk. But what if you can make a healthier Bicol Express? Would you like to try it? I am sharing with you my recipe for a kitchen experiment gone well. And this includes a kitchen hack that has made this dish well-loved by everyone in the family.

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~ The skillet is colorful with different vegetables swimming in coconut milk for this healthier Bicol Express recipe. ~

A Penchant for Spicy Food

Hubby and I are like two peas in a pod when it comes to spicy food. But while I can take really spicy food, I would rather like mine mildly spicy so that I can still appreciate flavors. Besides, my tummy seems to have an aversion to overly spicy food.

Meanwhile, hubby has to have things extra spicy. Take for example the Korean brand, Samyang ramen. He has to have it according to the package—no extenders.

As for the kids, Achi Shawna is starting to appreciate spicy food, so at least, we can already bring her to our foodie adventures. She just keeps a glass of milk beside her in case her mouth gets too hot.

On the other hand, Shane is still learning, so I adjust the level of spiciness in the dishes I make. But she does like my spicy pork sisig. Recipe here: Easy to Cook Homemade Pork Sisig Recipe

We are training their palate to accept spicy food so that we can all go on family foodie adventures together.

Produce from our Urban Garden

We live on the third floor of a commercial building. Space, sunlight, wind, and humidity are very hard to balance around here. But I do maintain a garden, which is mostly comprised of foliage so that we can have some fresh air and shade around here. It can get really hot in our living quarters.

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~ My two rectangular pots of alugbati in our urban garden. Not much space but at least I have some leaves to pick from time to time. Then I just replant the stems. ~

But during the lockdown for Covid-19, I had more time on my hands. So I tried growing some vegetables. Due to lack of space, I planted some basic vegetables like malunggay, alugbati, kamote tops, chili, and culinary herbs.

Except for a few, the culinary herbs are just so hard to maintain here. It will take a lot of re-arranging and observation on my part. So after spending so much on herbs and them just dying, I have decided to give up and maintain those that I can easily grow.

For this healthier Bicol Express, the chili and alugbati leaves were harvested from our garden. The kids helped me pick them.

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~ Fresh alugbati (Malabar spinach) and red chili picked fresh from our garden. ~

So, without further ado, here is my version of this well-loved spicy Pinoy dish. Make way for my healthier Bicol Express Recipe that the whole family will love.

Healthier Bicol Express Recipe

So here is my healthier Bicol Express Recipe. It’s made of pork but has less fat and features more vegetables. But because it is tasty, even the kids love the veggies!

Ingredients:

  • Cooking oil
  • 5 cloves Garlic, pounded or coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • ¾ kilo pork (I used a combination of back ribs and spareribs)
  • 1 carrot, sliced into cubes
  • 3-4 cups water, for boiling
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Baguio beans, sliced in 3mm increments
  • 2 Tbsps. Fish sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsps. Bagoong (shrimp paste), depending on taste
  • 1 cup pure coconut milk, first squeeze
  • 1 cup Alugbati (Malabar spinach), sliced coarsely
  • Red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • Fresh red chili, sliced or chopped

Procedure:

1. In a skillet, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onions for about 2 minutes, stir-frying in the process. Do not brown. Add the pork and let it fry on one side for a few minutes then turn. Cook on the other side for another 3-5 minutes. If you are not using a non-stick pan, you will need to move it around so that the meat will not stick.

2. Stir in the carrots and add the water, just enough to cover the meat. Season with about ½ tsp. salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil.

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~ Cooking the carrots with the pork will make it tender and more flavorful. But it will still hold its shape. ~

3. Cook the pork until tender, adding hot water if the liquid has significantly reduced and your pork is still tough. Don’t worry about the carrots—it will just be tender but it will retain its shape.

4. When the meat is tender enough, stir in the Baguio beans. At this point, you may want to add a bit more water—depending on how saucy you want your dish to be. Just remember that you will still need to add about a cup of coconut milk.

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~ This Bicol express is starting to become more colorful. ~

5. Season with the fish sauce and shrimp paste. These two will add flavor and that needed oomph of your dish. I especially liked the Toyang and Fina’s Sweet and Spicy Bagoong because it has a hint of sweetness already.

6. Bring to a light boil and pour in the coconut milk. Mix well and adjust seasonings. You might need to add either a little more salt or the fish sauce.

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~ I used about a cup of freshly extracted coconut milk. It really depends upon the taste. You may add more, if you like. ~

7. Mix in the alugbati leaves and the red bell pepper. Stir and cook for about two minutes or until the Malabar spinach greens are wilted.

Kitchen Hack

If you have kids and other family members who do not take spicy food well, you may want to get their share at this point. Set aside. Then add the fresh red chili slices and cook some more. If you want it really spicy, you might need to add a lot of chili. Since the red chili was not boiled with the pork, the hotness is limited to the sauce only. But if you want this healthier Bicol Express really spicy, boil the chili with the pork. You will get really spicy meat through the bones.

8. Add the chili slices and cook for about 2-3 more minutes. Then you will get the most colorful and nutritious Bicol express ever. Serve hot with steaming white rice. Warning: hotness overload!

Enjoy this healthier Bicol Express dish with your family by adjusting the level of hotness. Even the carrots are so flavorful that Shane enjoyed it so much—even if she doesn’t normally like carrots.

Note:

Order Toyang and Fina’s Sweet and Spicy Bagoong as well as other food products from Jamie Baloyo. You may text him at (0999) 8825624. Follow them on Facebook: Toyang and Fina’s

⭕Guisado Ginamos with Pork Chunks (sweet and spicy) – Php120.00 per bottle. Order yours from Kagawad Jamie Baloyo! 🍴Thank you Madz Jamie Baloyo!!! A blessing gd. Will bless you man bwas. Mwah! 😘#Bacolodeats

Posted by Sigrid Says on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Other Homecooking Recipes

The quarantine for Covid-19 has kept me busy in the kitchen. While being an ingenious homecook runs in the blood, I do not really have the time to keep cooking for my own family. But because of the lockdown and the threat of the virus, we are staying safely home more now instead of travelling. That’s our contribution to our country and the help we can give to our healthcare workers.

And because of that, I have a lot of homecooking recipes and kitchen hacks that I can share with you. Here are some of them.

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~ My healthier Bicol Express recipe. ~

Recipes Using Sardines

And here are some recipes using sardines in a can. These will help you whip up interesting and yummy dishes without sacrificing the family budget. Learn more from the links below:

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