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Here are two versions of a popular Bicolano dish:
Bicol Express I
Prep and cooking time: 50 minutes
2 cups siling haba (finger chili)
¾ kilo liempo (pork belly), sliced into small strips
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup diagonally sliced Baguio (string) beans
½ cup siling labuyo (chili pepper)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Marinate the siling haba in salted water for 30 minutes. Drain then chop. Set aside.
- Stir-fry the pork until golden brown. Set aside to one side of the pan.
- Add the garlic and onions and saute until cooked. Mix in the pork.
- Pour the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add beans, siling haba and labuyo. Cook until the milk thickens. Season with salt and pepper.
Bicol Express II
Prep and cooking time: 1 hour
10 pieces siling haba (finger chili)
20 pieces tahong (mussels)
½ kilo liempo (pork belly) cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup kakang gata (coconut cream)
¼ kilo medium shrimps, cubed
Salt to taste
- Cut the siling haba in half, remove the seeds then chop. Soak in salted water for a few minutes then drain.
- Cook the mussels then remove meat from the shells. Set aside.
- Put the pork, garlic, onions and coconut milk in a saucepan. Simmer until almost dry.
- Add the coconut cream, shrimps and mussels. Simmer until almost dry.
- Add the finger chili and season to taste.
From Pulutan: From the Soldiers’ Kitchen by Elmer D. Cruz and Emerson R. Rosales. (Anvil Publishing 2007).