Saturday, November 26, 2011

Top 10 Must Try Bicolano Foods

Bicol is a region in the Philippines located in the southeastern part of Luzon. The region is famous because of the Mayon Volcano which is found in Albay. The active volcano is known for its perfect cone shape. The Bicol region is also known for its delicious food and delicacies. The Bicolanos love spicy foods. They also use coconut cream in most of their recipes. The combination of hot spices and coconut cream is very enticing not only in the Bicol region but also in the entire Philippines. Be sure to try these top 10 Bicolano foods and fulfill your hot and spicy cravings.

1. Kinunot

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Kinunot is a spicy appetizer which ingredients include shark meat or sting ray meat. Yes, shark meat and sting ray meat. Who would have thought that these scary fish creatures can be so tasty? Bicolanos found a way to turn them into a very delicious food. The shark or the sting ray is cooked with coconut cream and malunggay or moringa leaves. It is a common joke in Bicol that when travelling by sea, you should bring malunggay because the sharks are afraid of it. Kinunot is now commonly prepared using sting ray because catching sharks nowadays is being prohibited.

2. Laing or Pinangat

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There is also a Bicolano recipe for vegetarians: the very popular laing. Laing is made from local “gabi” or taro leaves. The leaves is simmered in coconut cream and then served with siling labuyo or chili pepper. The dish is very common since the Bicolanos plant taro near their houses. The dish is also very affordable and it can be seen in almost any carenderia (restaurant) in the region.

3. Bicol Express

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Bicol Express is a dish which was named after a passenger train from Manila to Bicol. They named the dish Bicol Express because eating the dish will make you run like a train to look for water to drink. Bicol express is made up of pork cooked in coconut milk and spiced with lots and lots of red hot chili. Anyone who would eat the Bicol express should always ready himself with tissue or towels because anyone eating this dish will surely sweat and cry in tears because of the hot and spicy flavor.

4. Guinataang Labong

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Labong refers to a bamboo shoot which can be bought in any Philippine market mostly during the rainy season. It is also the main ingredient of Guinataang Labong which is a popular dish from the Bicol region. The bamboo shoots are cooked in coconut milk with shrimp paste or sardines. Fresh shrimps can also be added to this dish. What made this a Bicol dish is the addition of hot, fiery chili pepper, a distinct ingredient in any Bicolano recipe.

5. Tilmok

Tilmok is another famous food from the Bicol region. Tilmok is the Bicolano term for coconut meat. The other main ingredient of the dish is crab meat. The preparation of tilmok starts with the mixing of coconut meat and the crab meat together. Garnishing is added after the meats are mixed. The mixed “meats” are put inside banana leaves and then steamed. This delicious dish is popular among locals and even foreigners.

6. Pili Nut

With pili being endemic to the Bicol region, Bicolanos have found different uses of the pili nut. The easiest  to cook pili dish is the tinolang pili. In this dish, the nuts are soaked in boiling water until the covering is soft. When the external coverings are already soft, the “tinolang pili” is ready. Fish sauce or “patis” can also be added to give it a more delightful taste. The nuts can also be used as sweets. Popular pili sweets include binirubid or pinipilit, brittle pili nuts, caramelized pili nuts, and the yema azucarada.

7. Dinuguang Bicol

Dinuguan is a dish that uses pig’s blood as ingredient in cooking pork. The process of preparing this dish is mainly the same with the original dinuguan. What makes it Bicolano is the hot and spicy flavor. Chili pepper is added to the dinuguan to add spice to it. Dinuguan is usually eaten with puto.

8. Ginataang Santol (Santol Cooked in Coconut Milk)

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Almost all kinds of fruit, vegetable, or meat is possible to cook with coconut milk or locally known as “gata”. Bicolanos tend to use coconut milk to any dish because of the abundance of coconut in the region. One of the famous ginataan (a dish with coconut milk) from Bicol is the ginataang santol. The meat of the santol fruit is cooked in coconut milk. No one imagined that the extremely sour fruit would be a very delicious viand. Other famous ginataan recipes from Bicol are the ginataang puso ng saging (banana blossom cooked in coconut milk) and the sigarilyas sa gata (Winged Beans cooked in coconut milk).

9. Pancit Bato

The Pancit Bato is a type of noodles that originated from Bato, a barangay from the province of Camarines Sur. The process of cooking this pancit is similar to how pancit canton is cooked. The only difference is the ingredients. The pansit bato is cooked with fresh shrimps and petchay. It is usually eaten with rice or hot pandesal.

10. Sinapot

Sinapot is a banana dish also known as maruya or baduya for non-Bicolanos saba (Cardaba banana). The bananas are peeled and sliced and then mixed with flour, salt, baking powder, eggs and water. The mixed ingredients are then fried in boiling cooking oil. 

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