A Bicol Express Recipe Featuring Last Night's Lechon Kawali

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Are you strapped for time to cook the day’s ulam from scratch? Don’t beat yourself up for it; many other moms go through the same. Juggling household chores, work responsibilities, and your kids’ schedules can get daunting. But that doesn’t mean you should settle for food deliveries or takeout. Sure, you can reheat leftovers, but you can also effortlessly transform them into new, exciting dishes. Take this Bicol express recipe, for example.  

It uses lechon kawali, or any other kind of fried or roasted pork belly, to cut the cooking time by half. All that’s left to do is simmer the coconut-based Bicol express sauce to your preferred thickness. Because you’re already working with precooked meat, you don’t have to wait hours just to get it tender. How’s that for a time-saving shortcut? 

Ready to learn how to cook Bicol express and surprise your loved ones with a hearty homemade creation? Follow this complete guide to breeze through the process!

How to Cook Bicol Express With Lechon Kawali

A bowl of Bicol express with pork strips, pineapple chunks, and sliced chilies

Many Filipinos shy away from cooking dishes with gata because of the assumption that they take long hours to prep. That’s why not many Pinoy households take on the challenge of preparing their version of laing or sinantolan. But on the contrary, anything ginataan only calls for about 30 minutes of stove time. The even better news? You’ll allot most of that to simmer the sauce until thick, so you can leave it alone and work on other tasks. It really is the perfect weekday ulam!

Ingredients

  • 25 pcs green finger chilies (siling pangsigang)
  • 250 g pork belly (liempo) or precooked lechon kawali, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pc medium onion, sliced
  • 6 ginger slices
  • 1 cup fresh alamang or ½ cup bagoong
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 slices canned pineapple, diced
  • 1½ cups canned coconut cream (kakang gata
  • 2 tbsp Lady's Choice Real Mayonnaise

Method

  1. Slice chilies diagonally and remove all seeds. Soak in salted water for 30 minutes to lessen the spice. Rinse well, then strain. Set aside. 
  2. Heat pork in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it renders some fat. Once the oil starts to sizzle, sauté garlic, onion, and ginger until fragrant.
  3. Add alamang or bagoong and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  4. Pour in water and bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer.
  5. Add chilies and pineapple. Stir-fry until the mixture is almost dry. Add coconut cream and cook to your preferred thickness.
  6. Add Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise and stir well. Serve immediately. 

How to Make Lechon Kawali at Home

A yellow oval plate with golden brown lechon kawali pieces and chopped vegetables on the side

A list of Bicol express ingredients is never complete without pork. It gives the dish extra linamnam and helps counter the creaminess and sweetness of the coconut sauce. Traditional recipes require simmering the pork strips in gata until tender – a step that can take up to an hour. Skip that by using any precooked pork in your fridge or freezer. You can use some of the meat from your leftover adobonilaga, or even barbecue. Or, you can cook a batch of lechon kawali over the weekend. Serve half as is and save the other for your Bicol express. 

Here's a lechon kawali recipe you can cook in 30 minutes: 

Ingredients

Method

  1. Place pork, Knorr Pork Cube, and garlic in a pot. Fill with enough water to cover the meat. Cook over low heat until the pork is fork-tender. 
  2. Remove pork from the pot. Pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle Knorr Liquid Seasoning all over. 
  3. Heat enough oil in a deep-fryer. Cook pork until golden brown and the skin is crunchy. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately. 

Besides using a few pieces in this Bicol express recipe, you can transform leftover lechon kawali into many other Pinoy dishes. Try this shortcut next time you make kare kare, dinuguan, and binagoongan. Get them crispy again by refrying, chop them into bite-sized pieces, then sprinkle some over chopsuey, pancit bihon, or pinakbet. That should be more than enough ulam ideas for an entire week. Stay stress-free, mom!

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