Drive south. Taste the sizzling red chili peppers. Indulge yourself in the creamy taste of coco milk. Explore erupting flavors. Sniff mouth-watering aroma. Yes, your taste buds will urge you to come back for more peculiar native dishes.
Heading for Bicol region’s best escapes? Complete the experience you’ll never forget by trying these 10 quirky flavors of the south. Be ready to battle against all the spicy stuff though. Water please!
Bicol Express (photo by Elaine Yong via Flickr)
#1 – Bicol Express
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Which else could ever ditch away the toughness of region 5’s best food icon? If you haven’t tried Bicol Express yet, it’s now time to take on the challenge. Bicol express has different versions. Commonly, it is made of pork cooked with a couple of spicy chili peppers, but in other parts of Bicol, you may try its tuna version too.
Bicolana Laing Pizza (photo by Raleene Cabrera via Flickr)
#2 – Bicolana Pizza
No one would ever think that ‘laing’ could be a great pizza crust topping, except the creative and innovative chefs of Small Talk Café in Legazpi City. Thumbs up to the Bicol version of an Italian cuisine.
#3 – Pasta Pinangat
Another quirky dish served at Small Talk Café is the Pasta Pinangat. Pinangat is a popular laing dish in Bicol, particularly, the best ones are found in Camalig, Albay. Again, how could someone imagine a pasta with a twist of pinangat? This is a must-try for food hunters!
Inulukan (photo by Guinobatan Tambayan)
#4 – Inulukan
You think you had enough of Pinangat? Here’s another variety stuffed with crab meat.
Binutong (photo by Taga Bikol Ako Kaya Oragon Ako FB)
#5 – Binutong
Binutong is indeed a fun way to eat rice. Rice for Binutong is cooked in coconut cream, sugar and salt. It is packed in a layer of banana leaf. If you want to try Binutong, be sure to have it with a cup of hot cocoa and fried dried fish too. That would be the most awesome combination for it.
Kinunot (photo by Dahon via Flickr)
#6 – Kinunot na Pagi
Kinunot na Pagi is made of shredded sting ray and malunggay leaves cooked in coconut milk. Some have tried a smoky version of it by applying the same method used in Tinutungan na Manok. And that worked like no joke!
Tinutungan na Manok (photo by Guinobatan Tambayan FB)
#7 – Tinutungan na Manok
This is also called Adobong Manok sa Sinunog na gata. It may look very homey and simple, but behind this dish is a laborious cooking task. As its name suggests, (“tinutong” means toasted) you first need to toast the coco meat through a burnt charcoal directly placed in it, before squeezing out its milk. This gives the dish a smoky, creamy fusion of flavors. Native chicken and unripe chops of papaya fruit are cooked together in the coco milk. Why not try this peculiar take on chicken?
#8 – Kinagang
Kinagang is a specialty of Sorsogon province. It is a combination of buko, scallions, crabmeat and lemongrass. A perfect treat for seafood lovers.
Kinalas (photo by Shubert Ciencia via Flickr)
#9 – Kinalas
During cold ber’ months, a bowl of Kinalas would be great. This dish is mami’s Bicolano version. What gives it a punch is the flesh that fell off the cow or pig’s head boiled for a couple of hours. The soup is best enjoyed with chili paste put in it. Think about a local exotic version of Korea’s Jjampong.
#10 – Pancit Bato/Pancit Bicol
Pancit is an all-time Filipino favorite snack. Among the many varieties of pancit is Pancit Bato. The noodles used for cooking the dish originated from Bato, Camarines Sur. This version of pancit is really good, you have to satisfy yourself with more than just one serving.
Ever tried one of these? If not, don’t miss anything from the list. Hit the best of the south, otherwise, Mayon will be mad. Try them now!