I recently read an article about the changes in cultural dishes and that once they hit mainstream American (or Canadian!) restaurants and their abundance of fusion-based dishes, the authenticity behind the dish slowly converts to something unrecognizable to the country’s native.
I am all for experimentation in dishes, fusing different cultures into more familiar dishes to make it an easier and unique transition and introduction to that cultures food to those that are unfamiliar.
I’ve shared a lot of recipes here where I’ve done just that, like my butter chicken poutine or pineapple tamarind shrimp tacos.
It’s a delicious spin on classic favourites.
And after all, Filipino Food is a fusion of cultures already!
But as a woman that was was raised in Canada but was thankfully spoiled with delicious and legitimate delicacies thanks to my Lola’s (Grandmother’s), my Mom and my dozens of ‘tita’s’ (Aunt) that make sure I eat enough for an army every single time I step into their home (otherwise it would be disrespectful), I just want to see and TASTE real, genuine Filipino food or at least the true flavours when I order something off a menu that indicates it’s a Filipino dish or inspired by one.
Let’s take it back to the roots!
Pulo Cuisine is a favourite brand of mine offering vegan and delicious authentic sauces and marinades inspired from the 7000 Islands of the Philippines.
I’ve had a lot of fun with their products, whipping up recipes old and new in my kitchen in less time than it would usually take. Convenience is key in this home.
My kids are exposed to authentic Filipino Food often (thankfully!) but I have noticed I have been straying away from pure Philippine Dishes and thought it would be a great time to do so now that we’ve entered the cooler months because Filipino Food is all about comfort food.
The Bicol Express Recipe is the most popular spicy Filipino food recipe there is.
It is best eaten as a main dish or as a “pulutan” (which means “something that is picked up”).
It can be described as a pork dish cooked in coconut milk with shrimps, vegetables, and lots of chilies.
What does Bicol Express mean?
Most think it’s because the dish was originated in the Bicol Region of the Philippines, however, history narrates that this dish originated in Malate, Manila.
It was invented by a restaurant owner named Cecilia “Tita Cely” Villanueva Kalaw who was a native from Laguna. Tita Cely was born in Los Banos, Laguna but spent most of her childhood days in the region of Bicol where she learned how to cook most of the delicious Bicolano dishes.
Tita Cely and her brother, Demetrio “Kuya Etring” Kalaw, opend a restaurant in Oregon St., Malate, Manila which they named it as “The Grove Luto ni Inay”.
In several interviews, she told that some of their customers complain about their “laing” entrée dish as being too spicy. It was at that time that she decided to create a new dish with coconut milk which she believed suitable to the taste of the people in the area where her restaurant is located.
She then created a magical dish and they named it Bicol Express, named after the name of a train that passes their house which travels from Manila to Bicol and vice versa.
So there you have it. A little Filipino history lesson for you too!
This is a favourite dish in my family of spicy-food lovers, however I tend do put a little less spice for the kids and they eat it up!
Like most Filipino dishes, this is eaten best with white rice (you are free to swap for brown or just veggies but white rice is the way to go!). Filipino dishes usually taste better the day after as well, so leftovers can be refrigerated in tupperware for up to 3 days and taste just as good.
Enjoy this delicious, creamy, spicy and flavourful dish this weekend! Happy eating!
To learn more about Pulo Cuisine, visit them online at http://www.pulocuisine.com.
- 1/2 cup of Philippine bird's eye pepper (siling labuyo) or
- long chili pepper (siling haba) -- I also just use jalapeno peppers to lower the spice levels (plus they're easily accessible). Use any chili peppers you have!
- 1 jar of Pulo Cuisine Coconut Adobo Sauce
- 1/2 cup of coconut milk
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 med. onion
- 1/2 to 3/4 kilogram pork, sliced small
- 2 tbsp Bagoong (alamang) or shrimp paste
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- salt to taste
- Sauté the garlic, onion, pork, shrimp, and bagoong
- Add Pulo Cuisine Coconut Adobo Sauce coconut milk and bring to a boil. Simmer until pork is halfway cooked
- Add the peppers and simmer until cooked
- Add salt to desired taste
- Enjoy on top of a bed of white rice!
- For more spice - add red chilies.
- You will most of these ingredients at your local Asian Grocers.
I’d love for you to try Pulo Cuisine’s Sauces and marinades for yourself and invite the taste of the Philippines into your kitchen!
Comment below telling me what your favourite comfort cultural dish is in your home below. What dish did you love growing up as a child that originated from your cultural background?
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