Bicolano Cuisine: A Bicol Food Trip Part 1

Bicol is land of the coconuts. It is situated along the typhoon belt so coconut trees are planted because they can bend and sway with the strong wind… just like the resilience of their people in difficult times. I can truly say that Bicolano cuisine has its own distinct identity with their heavy use of coconut milk and chili peppers. Food is generally spicier than the other regions. In the Philippines dishes are named after the cooking method. “Ginata” or “ginataang” means to cook in coconut milk. In fact almost all vegetables are cooked in coconut milk.

One very famous vegetable from the region is “gabi” or taro leaves. They are hanged upside to dry before being used. Old folks say it is not wise to stir the dish while cooking or else it will become “makati” or itchy . Non Bicolanos use the term “Laing” loosely to refer to gabi or taro leaves cooked in coconut milk. The locals are very particular about the variations:

Laing – gabi leaves coocked in coconut milk, with shrimp paste or dried fish
Tilmok– gabi leaves cooked in coconut milk with fish meat or crab meat
Pinangat – layered gabi leaves cooked in coconut milk with bangot ( meaning “sahog” or sometimes minced pork).

Other vegetable dishes cooked in coconut milk:

Ginataang santol – santol fruit meat cooked in coconut milk

Purupagulong -Sigarilias sa gata

Ginataang puso ng saging – banana heart cooked in coconut milk

Other famous dishes:
Bicol express – named after the train. Pork cooked in coconut, a little shrimp paste and lots of chili peppers. In my travels I realized that each Bicolano family has their own version of the dish. Some serve it dried with the fat rendered out and others serve it with the creaminess of the coconut milk

Kinonut na Pagi – shredded sting ray meat cooked in coconut milk.

Fresh Alamang – similar to shrimp paste without the saltiness but is very spicy. Often eaten as an accompaniment in their meals. It’s derivative Bicolano homemade patis is also finished off with coconut milk.

There is an abundance is seafood like crabs, tuna, and squid as the provinces are located near the coastal water.

Fish drying is a very common along the sea shores

Sabang port along Camarines Sur boast of their Blue Marlin fishing industry.

Bicol is also known for the Pili Nut which grows only in this region. Culinary applications are similar to pecan or the macadamia nut. Albay has had this industry since the Spanish occupation. Tip for foodies is to look for the “Locsin” brand.

The different pili products

The Pili Nut

Another sweet dish is biniribid – or pinilipit, deep fried rice flour with coconut milk, glazed with brown sugar

0 Replies to “Bicolano Cuisine: A Bicol Food Trip Part 1”

  1. You missed one very original but rarely noticed Bicol dish. It is called “Tinutungan na Manok” or simply “Gulay na Manok”. This is also cooked in gata but before the grated coconut with is pressed to take out the gata, the coconut with is slightly burned with charcoal so the smell of the rest of the meat will be of burned coconut. The chicken used here is the native chicken so it organic. Most coconut in Bicol are organic because no one uses fertilizer. Some homes also use green chopped green papaya as additional ingredient while some also pours the blood of the chicken in the coconut meat while it is being pressed for the gata. The finished product therefore looks like dinuguan.

    1. Tinutungan is a delish of Albay province,even the dinuguan they cook it just like the way tinutungan manok is cooked.I am from Camarines Sur but my grandmother is from Albay.Bicol region has lots of delicacies that we could be proud of.

  2. Ginataang dahon ng kamoteng-kahoy (cassava leaves) is also a popular bicolano dish. But, one has to be very careful in preparing the dish. Cassava leaves or cassava in general is known to contain neurotoxin. Young cassava leaves are carefully collected and extracted to remove the juice, which contains the toxins. The leaves are then air dried for an hour before cooking it in coconut milk (gata), smoked fish (tinapa or inagunan–smoked tuna meat), onion, garlic, and red chili (siling labuyo).

  3. Hey Pam,

    Meron na ba part 2? I’m putting up a culinary tour in catanduanes bicol. It’s a separate island. I’ll keep you posted.
    But it’s basically 3 days and 3 nights. It’s a mix of culinary tour, Eco tour and enjoying and thinking if I’ll include a class on the last day.

    Look me up through twitter or email me your mobile number.รผ
    See ya!!
    Carlo Romano

  4. A number of Bicol dishes that are not that very popular or well known but very delicious:
    1. Kinalas – bulalo type soup with mami (Naga area). Pork may also be used.
    2. Pancit Bato – Cassava based noodles with very limited vegetables from Bato, CamSur.
    3. Toasted Siopao – Asado siopao that is baked rather than steamed. Originally from Libmanan, CamSur (3N Bakery)
    4. Ninatkang Bayawas – Ripe guava in coconut milk.
    5. Kurakding – Wood mushroom in sili and coconut milk.
    6. Sinasa – Shredded fish in sili and oil with calamansi.
    7. Ginataang langka – Shredded unripe jackfruit in coconut milk with sardines
    8. Picadillo – Tilapia stuffed with tomato, garlic, onion, ginger, sili wrapped in pechay in coconut milk.

  5. I just love the Bicol Express it’s my favorite Bicolano dish. My wife cooks that for me and it’s so delicious but I’ve eaten it once from an authentic Bicolano restaurant and it’s even super masarap! And Laing and ginataang puso ng saging I don’t usually eat but when it’s authentic Bicolano recipe talagang napapakain ako. Thanks for posting this, nagugutom tuloy ako, magpapaluto ako ulit sa wife ko ng ganito.

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