When it comes to exotic foods in the Philippines, Bicol has always been one of the top destinations. Located in the southern part of Luzon, Bicol is known for its rich culinary heritage and unique flavors. Bicolano cuisine is characterized by its generous use of chili peppers, coconut milk, and local ingredients like taro leaves and pili nuts. In this article, we will take a closer look at seven must-try dishes that will surely tantalize your taste buds and give you a true taste of Bicol.
Bicolano Dish 1: Bicol Express
Bicol Express is perhaps the most famous dish from the region. Made with pork, shrimp paste, coconut milk, and a generous amount of chili peppers, this spicy dish is a true delight for those who love heat in their food. The name “Bicol Express” was inspired by the train that used to run from Manila to Bicol, symbolizing the dish’s explosive flavors. The combination of creamy coconut milk, savory pork, and fiery chili peppers creates a harmonious blend that will leave you craving for more. Whether you enjoy it with rice or as a filling for bread, Bicol Express is a dish that should not be missed.
Bicolano Dish 2: Laing
Laing is another popular Bicolano dish that showcases the region’s love for taro leaves. A simple yet flavorful dish, Laing is made by simmering taro leaves in coconut milk with shrimp paste, ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. The result is a creamy and spicy vegetable dish that pairs perfectly with steamed rice. The combination of the earthy taro leaves, the richness of coconut milk, and the kick of chili peppers creates a unique and satisfying flavor profile. It’s no wonder that Laing has become a staple in Bicolano households and a must-try for visitors to the region.
Bicolano Dish 3: Kadingga or Bopis
For those who are adventurous eaters, Kadingga or Bopis is a dish that you shouldn’t miss. This exotic dish is made from pig’s lungs and heart sautéed with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and chili peppers. The result is a flavorful and spicy dish that is often enjoyed as a pulutan or appetizer with a cold beer. Kadingga or Bopis may not be for everyone, but for those who are willing to try something different, this Bicolano dish is definitely worth a taste.
Bicolano Dish 4: Kinunot
Kinunot is a dish that truly showcases the abundance of seafood in Bicol. This unique dish is made from shark meat cooked in coconut milk, ginger, garlic, chili peppers, and malunggay leaves. The combination of the tender shark meat, the creamy coconut milk, and the aromatic flavors of ginger and garlic creates a delectable dish that is both satisfying and comforting. Kinunot is best enjoyed with a bowl of steamed rice, allowing you to savor the flavors of the sea fully.
Bicolano Dish 5: Pinangat
Pinangat is a dish that combines the flavors of coconut milk, taro leaves, and a variety of seafood. This Bicolano delicacy is made by wrapping a mixture of shrimp, fish, or crabmeat in taro leaves and cooking it in coconut milk with ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. The result is a flavorful and aromatic dish that is both visually appealing and delicious. Pinangat is a staple in Bicolano celebrations and is often enjoyed with family and friends. The combination of the creamy coconut milk, the tenderness of the seafood, and the slight heat from the chili peppers makes Pinangat a true Bicolano classic.
Bicolano Dish 6: Biniribid
Biniribid is a sweet treat that Bicolanos love to indulge in. This traditional snack is made from glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and grated coconut. The dough is shaped into small balls or twists and then deep-fried until golden brown. The result is a crispy and sweet snack that is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with a hot cup of coffee, Biniribid is a delightful treat that will surely satisfy your cravings.
Bicolano Dish 7: Pili Nuts
No visit to Bicol would be complete without trying the region’s prized delicacy, pili nuts. These creamy and buttery nuts are native to Bicol and are often used in various dishes and desserts. Pili nuts are known for their nutritional value and unique flavor, making them a popular snack for locals and tourists alike. Whether enjoyed on their own or used as an ingredient in pastries and sweets, pili nuts are a true Bicolano treasure.
Bicolano cuisine is a treasure trove of exotic flavors and unique dishes. From the fiery Bicol Express to the creamy Laing, each dish showcases the region’s love for bold flavors and local ingredients. Whether you are a fan of spicy food or prefer something milder, Bicol has something to offer for everyone. So, the next time you find yourself in Bicol, make sure to indulge in these seven dishes and experience the true taste of the region. Your taste buds will thank you.