This dish is comprised of pork cooked with a generous amount of Coconut milk and chilies. No wonder the name of this dish was derived from a Philippine region (Bicol) wherein Coconuts are abundant and the use of chilies is emphasized in most local meals.
After doing some research, I learned that this dish did not originate from the Bicol region at all. Contrary to its name, Bicol express was actually conceptualized and first cooked by Ms. Cely Kalaw in her Manila restaurant sometime during the late 60€™s to the early 70€™s. Based on an article written by Angela De Leon entitled Soul Train: The Unlikely Beginnings Of A Beloved Filipino Dish (published in Chile Pepper Magazine last October 2006), Ms. Kalaw toned down the heat on her Taro dish (this could be €œLaing€) after receiving complains from some customers. However, she knew that other customers wanted the Taro dish to be hot and spicy so she invented another amazingly spicy hot dish that would best compliment the Taro. Thus, Bicol Express was born.
But how was she able to come up with the name? As per Angela€™s article, the taro incident and new spicy dish invention happened in just one day. Apparently, Ms. Kalaw finished cooking the new dish but still cannot think of any name for it. As lunch time drew nearer, she was getting anxious because the customers will soon flock-in and she has yet to name her newest masterpiece. At that moment, she heard the daily train to Bicol ramble by the window. It was the light bulb moment that she was waiting for.