Chicken Bicol Express


I was at the grocery one day when I chanced upon some of Yummy magazine’s little cookbooks on the magazine rack. They are roughly the size of a paperback but thinner. A mini cookbook really. But packed to the brim with delicious and doable recipes. They have several in varying themes and the one I found was entitled Pinoy Regional Favorites. It had been published a while back already, so these were probably the last remaining copies (in the store). I couldn’t resist. I grabbed two and stuck them in my cart.

I still remember the very first time I read the very first issue of Yummy magazine. I was a newlywed (more or less). I already loved cooking and I already had this blog, but it was the first time I had a kitchen to call my own. I felt like Yummy just spoke to me. I am a simple, no-fuss girl with a big passion for food…and the magazine, with its bright, contemporary design, youthful feel, easy but good dishes, fun but practical approach, and interesting features, was talking right at me. The start of a “conversation” that would last for more than a decade.

The first time they asked me to do a feature I was beyond flattered. So thrilled to be asked by this shiny new food magazine that I already loved! Of course I said yes…and the rest was history. From features to my very own column, Yummy saw me through my early-married life to each of my two children (with many wonderful moments in between). I went through three Yummy editors, and several staffers, and not one I didn’t love. Every single person on that team was a joy to work with.

When they went out of print a teeny piece of my heart broke. And mine wasn’t the only one. I got many messages from readers all over lamenting the loss of a great print magazine…some mentioning it was the only print magazine they would buy.

But…such is life. Things change and so do we. We move on, we move forward, but we are forever touched and changed by the experiences of our lives. As I am touched and changed from having worked with such a stellar publication, and with such amazing people. I suppose this is my little tribute to Yummy, and to them.

This Chicken Bicol Express came out in my Yummy column in 2014. It was also a part of their Pinoy Regional Favorites cookbook. This dish was influenced by my love for Bicolano cuisine. It’s got coconut milk and chilis like the original, but I use chicken instead of the usual pork. It is very easy to make and you can have it on your table in a little over half an hour.

Chicken Bicol Express
(from my September 2014 column in Yummy Magazine)

  • Vegetable oil, for sautéing
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 30 grams ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons bagoong (maybe more, depending on the saltiness of your bagoong)
  • 4-5 sili pang sigang (long green chilis)
  • 300-350 grams chicken thigh fillets, cut into hefty chunks
  • 250 ml coconut milk (gata)
  • Optional: sili labuyo, if you really want to crank up the heat!

– Heat a wok or a skillet over medium high heat. Add a couple of swirls of oil, and when this is hot, add the onions, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent and the scent of the aromatics waft up.
– Add the bagoong and sili to the pan and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, until the flavors have blended.
– Add the chicken to the pan and fry until seared, about 1-2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer on very low heat for about 20-30 minutes, until chicken is tender and sauce has thickened. Taste, and if you think it needs more seasoning, mix in a little more bagoong.

This recipe will serve two, as I made it when my children were younger and could not yet eat too much spicy food, but the recipe is easy to scale up (and I have successfully done so since). You can add as many chilies as you want, according to how spicy you’d like it. If you want to really up the heat quotient then add some sili labuyo along with the sili pangsigang.

You can substitute the chicken here for fish or shrimps if you want a seafood version, or vegetables if you want a vegetarian version. Just adjust the cooking times accordingly.

If you hadn’t noticed, I mentioned earlier that I grabbed two copies of this Yummy cookbook. One for me, and one for one of you!

Yes, a giveaway!! Mechanics as follows:

  • I am giving one copy of Pinoy Regional Favorites to a fellow Yummy reader.
  • All you need to do is leave a comment here with your best Yummy memory…that’s it!
  • A week from this posting I will pick a name of one commenter (randomly from a hat as I like to do) and he/she will be the winner!
  • Only entries based in the Philippines, with a valid email address, are eligible to win.

Happily, Yummy lives on online through So give them a visit for more of the easy, delicious recipes you loved to receive each month!

In the meantime…let’s reminisce together. Would love to hear your Yummy stories!

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