7 Bicolano dishes to add to your menu

7 Bicolano dishes to add to your menu

Bicol is one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines – and with good reason! With its beautiful volcanoes, lakes and beaches, it’s the perfect place to spend a vacation. However, visitors near and far also travel all the way to this region for the food.

Bicolano cuisine is known for having gata (coconut milk) and sili (chilli peppers) as the main ingredients. The creaminess of the milk balances out the fiery chilli, a blend of flavors that’s distinctively from this region.

Now, the locals love their spicy food and don’t hold back from eating everything, even the sili, and you can bet that tourists will want the same. If you want to serve authentic Bicolano dishes in your restaurant, don’t go easy on the chillis. Stay true to Bicol’s favourite flavours and dishes with these mouth-watering menu ideas!

1. Bicol express

Bicol express

1. Bicol express

Bicol express is arguably the most popular dish in Bicolandia. It’s a flavour bomb made with strips of pork and long green chillies or siling haba cooked in thick coconut milk. Prepare a cold drink for your guest on the side – this hot and spicy stew can heat up one’s senses in an instant.

1. Bicol express
2. Dinailan


Dinailan is famous for its pungent smell because it’s made with ground, salted alamang paste of dried balaw (tiny shrimps). This delicacy can be cooked in various ways: ginataan (with coconut milk), sinantulan (with santol), inasal (roasted), or ginisa (sauteed). Serve dinailan as a sawsawan or an appetiser mixed with calamansi. For Daetaños, this exotic dish goes perfectly well on top of hot steaming rice or as a dipping sauce for green mangoes.

3. Tilmok


This entrée has crab meat and aromatics like garlic and onions mixed with tilmok, the Bicolano term for coconut meat. The ingredients are wrapped in banana leaves then steamed. This treat can be enjoyed on its own or served with piping hot rice.

4. Tinutungang manok

Tinutungang manok

Cooking tinutungang manok takes at least two hours to prepare – quite a labourious task even for professionals. Before squeezing out the juice from the coconut meat to make cream and milk, it’s first toasted on burnt charcoal. The tinutong, which means “toasted” in Bicolano, coconut cream, and milk are then added to fried native chicken and papaya slices, giving the dish a smoky, creamy flavor.

5. Kinunot na pagi

Kinunot na pagi

This spicy appetiser is for the adventurous. Kinunot is a Bicolano term for flaking. The shredded stingray meat is cooked with coconut cream and malunggay or moringa leaves until the meat is juicy and easily flakes with a fork. Cooking pagi can be quite a challenge, but it results in a tasty treat when well-prepared.

6. Laing


Taro or gabi leaves are the star of this Bicol favourite. The locals hang the leaves upside down on a string and let them dry under the sun for a couple of hours. The drying process is an important step in order to remove the uncomfortable palate texture or kati of the leaves when they’re eaten fresh. Once the leaves are ready, they are simmered in coconut milk with siling labuyo (native small red chillies). Laing makes for a rich, creamy, and hot veggie comfort food.

7. Ginataang santol

Ginataang santol

In Bicol, even fruits are cooked with coconut milk, so make sure to add this to your menu. The grated santol flesh gives this ulam a slightly sour and sweet kick. The locals prefer to eat ginataang santol as is or with rice, but it can also be enhanced with pork or shrimp to make a new dish. Ginataan-loving Bicolanos also use puso ng saging (banana blossom), labong (bamboo shoots), and sigarilyas (winged beans) to make other good eats cooked in coconut milk. Of course, adding chillies makes these recipes distinctly Bicolano.

Inspired by these Bicolano dishes? Let Unilever Food Solutions help you recreate them. Add more consistent flavour to your food when you use Knorr Pork Broth in your laing or Knorr Liquid Seasoning in your Bicol express! For more recipe ideas, check out our library!

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