02 Jul2006


I ordered an interesting sounding ginataang talong dish (Eggplants in coconut milk with smoked fish) in Legazpi that made enough of an impression that I tried to re-create it back in Manila, with delicious results. If you are not into coconut milk, smoked fish or eggplants, don’t even try this. tal2To make, slice several Asian eggplants (the slim ones) on the diagonal. In a wok or pan, heat up several cups of freshly squeezed gata (coconut milk) and add chopped onions, some garlic and boil it to thicken it. Add some sliced siling mahaba (long chillies) with seeds and perhaps one or two chopped siling labuyo if you want some spice, then add about 2 flaked and de-boned tinapang galunggong (smoked fish), some uncolored bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)and the eggplants and cook until just done. Add salt and some pepper to taste. Serve with lots of steamed rice and perhaps a grilled pork chop or liempo. It was surprisingly easy and very good eating.

I was also baffled by the lack of a decent bicol express in Bicol so at tal3the market last weekend I bought tons of siling mahaba with the intention of making some of my own bicol express. I made it for lunch today in just 15 minutes and I can’t, for the life of me, understand why restaurants can’t serve a decent version. I have the more complicated recipe detailed here, but today’s express bicol express version using some uncolored bagoong instead of daing took almost no time and tasted utterly delicious. Yes, I do like my bicol express spicy with a creamy and coconutty sauce…



  1. joey says:

    I do like all of the above: coconut milk, tinapa, and eggplant so yahoo! This dish is for me! Thanks :)

    Jul 2, 2006 | 7:24 pm


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  3. Apicio says:

    All of the above call for a lot of rice and I simply cannot heed the call anymore. I shall just cook it for my younger guests next time.

    Jul 2, 2006 | 9:46 pm

  4. Marinel says:

    MM, do you think canned coconut milk would work? I have no way of getting fresh coconut milk. :-(

    Jul 3, 2006 | 2:32 am

  5. Mandy says:

    argh!! nakakagutom. i will look for bicol express tomorrow!!

    Jul 3, 2006 | 2:52 am

  6. renee says:

    i was in naga last december for a friends wedding, and was very disappointed that we didn’t get to taste a good bicol express… i thought it was just the lack of time for us, that we didn’t get to explore other restaurants.
    Like you i’ll probably just do it myself(although my version would have squids and shrimp in it hehehe)

    Jul 3, 2006 | 6:53 am

  7. gonzo says:

    It’s strange that people seem to have a hard time finding good bicol express in bicol!

    A thought that’s been percolating in my mind for years now is why not someone coordinate with the dept of tourism or whoever and work out how to have easy access to regional speciality restaurants in different regions of the country?

    Maybe some excellent restaurants in the provinces should get organised into some sort of gastronomic association in which the requirement for entry is a certain standard of food quality as well as regional culinary uniqueness and a focus on one’s own regional cookery.

    I for one am certainly sick and tired of going somewhere, like, say, Urdaneta Pangasinan, and ending up in th local f-ing Jollibee, Chow king or @#$!& Max fried chicken because i don’t know where to go for local cookery.

    The Tourism people should do something about it– a guidebook or something; it would be great for local tourists (you know, get us exploring our own country!).

    All pinoys like to eat, so one added incentive to local travel is the prospect of trying out the regional cuisine at a good local restaurant in the province that one happens to be visiting. Make it easy for local travellers!

    As for Jollibee, sobra na! tama na!

    (ps. thanks for the contact numbers, doddie, i will be trying your parents’ food products soon.)

    Jul 3, 2006 | 8:31 am

  8. gonzo says:

    To expound on the possible national gastronomic association, once a restaurant is in, they then put up a plaque or something on the wall; “This restaurant is a member of the distinguished blah blah…”

    Sort of like a Michelin ranking. And every year, people write in to say if the restaurant has maintained its standard so that it keeps its membership.

    The restaurants don’t have to be fancy. in fact i prefer the hole-in-the-wall or beach shack type but with good fresh food.

    in my opinion, this would probably help the govt’s tourism effort, and possibly help foreign tourists (and consequently the world when the foreign tourists return to their own countries) understand the quality and flavours of Philippine cuisine.

    as it is right now, the local food a traveller gets in some provinces is the roadside turo-turo type in aluminium pots , served cold and oily– bits of stringy meat, matigas, etc. hardly representative of good pinoy cooking, so of course few tourists eat it. In contrast, street, or roadside food in thailand for example is enjoyed by all, locals and tourists alike.

    Jul 3, 2006 | 8:48 am

  9. arlene says:

    Hi MM,
    I have been looking for a good bicol express recipe can youi share this one for us….


    Jul 3, 2006 | 11:38 am

  10. Doddie Householder from Korea says:


    You are evil. After that delicious result (and indigestion) with your bicol express recipe. Now I definitely have to try out this eggplant recipe. I love eggplants too. Sigh, let’s hope I have more self-control this time. :-)

    Ok, you’re not evil. Well, maybe just a tad. he he he


    PS. Gonzo thanks! I know your son will love it! YOu have def. have to try her longganisang hubad too.

    Jul 3, 2006 | 2:02 pm

  11. lee says:

    this would taste really good.

    Jul 3, 2006 | 2:12 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    Marinel, yes, canned coconut milk will work, but you may need to add a bit of water if it is too thick. Also, I find canned coconut milk a little sweeter than fresh so you might want to add salt and spice as well.

    Arlene, I had a previous post with a bicol express recipe. I updated the link in the main post on talong with gata up above so you can easily find the recipe for bicol express…

    Gonzo, I agree something is needed to feature regional specialties…

    Jul 3, 2006 | 4:02 pm

  13. suzette says:

    what’s the difference between bicol and bacolod express?

    Jul 3, 2006 | 4:36 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    suzette, first time I have heard of Bacolod Express…any other readers want to help?

    Jul 3, 2006 | 5:07 pm

  15. Doddie Householder from Korea says:


    If you ever want to cook with korean ingredients like gochugang (red hot pepper paste), dwengjang sauce (fermented bean paste), etc. just let me know. I’ll send you a care package. If you want korean recipes too, I’ll gladly include them.

    BTW, I make a mean kimchi gjige (kimchi stew).


    Jul 3, 2006 | 5:15 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Doddie, I actually have a fondness and some experience with the most common Korean dishes… one of my college roommates was Korean and I have spent several months up in Seoul for work before… but I haven’t cooked much korean food thus far!

    Jul 3, 2006 | 5:48 pm

  17. Apicio says:

    The ever so tentative suggestion of entrusting the promotion of regional cuisines to beaureaucrats just makes my skin crawl. It brings back all too vividly the memory of scientists in the then National Science Development Board chopping up ramie fibre “to cottonize it,” a reverse alchemy not at all different from copperizing gold.

    Jul 3, 2006 | 7:10 pm

  18. lee says:

    have not heard of bacolod express yet. will try to ask around.

    Jul 4, 2006 | 8:32 am

  19. stef says:

    marketman, what’s the brand of your uncolored bagoong? i’ve been in search here forever for a filipino brand, but everything that’s available is the familiar pink — ick! so i’ve often resorted to other countries’ products just to avoid that artificial coloring. i’d love to patronize pinoy, but health comes first — would love to have the name of the company that makes it, maybe i could write them and beg them to consider exporting. your readers who share the same concerns may wish to do the same.

    Jul 4, 2006 | 8:58 pm

  20. Marketman says:

    stef, sorry, I buy it in the market unbranded. In Bicol, they come in huge vats and you buy it buy the plastic bag full… Perhaps some Indonesian or Thai products might approximate it where you are?

    Jul 4, 2006 | 9:05 pm

  21. Apicio says:

    Is it a Filipino thing, to tint food insanely with extranatural colours that render them totally revolting. Bagoong alamang that looks like jaleang ubi, gruesome tocino and lurid longaniza not to mention agar-agar, kaong and pearl tapioca with the most garish colours since the infancy of anniline dye synthesis.

    Jul 4, 2006 | 9:26 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    I am convinced that the color proclivity is recent…it makes up for the utter lack of quality in most cases. Think the more economical breads at the corner bakery…instead of jam, they put red food coloring with some sugar or instead of ube, purple food coloring. As the average buying power of the consumer declines, all manner of visual enhancement is sought…

    Jul 4, 2006 | 9:46 pm

  23. Kate says:

    When I stilled live in RP, in a city next to the sea, I bought my own fresh alamang, layered it in sea salt and kept the garapon in the fridge. That was my balao. Now I’m reduced to choosing the lesser of the pink-tinted evils on the Asian market shelves. Sigh…won’t anyone go into business there and produce an unadorned, natural balao or bagoong? Pleeeeease…

    Jul 5, 2006 | 2:22 am

  24. s.anne says:

    MM, it’s been a while that i wasn’t able to check your post. Am now @Abu Dhabi for almost 2 months and still adjusting(with the weather, food and the smell ;). Am glad i have internet connection here @ work or else my day is incomplete without reading your post. I always enjoy every post here, even if am not familiar with some food terms and not tried cooking them.

    Jul 5, 2006 | 5:27 pm

  25. carlos a cortes jr says:

    hello i was just browsing and chance upon your item on bicol express. i am from naga city and living in chicago. i cook bicol express here for my filipino friends using ingredients which are readily available. the alamang in bottle can be used as substitute for the fresh balao(salted small shrimps). just let fresh water run over it for a few seconds. the thai coco milk in can is okay to use. for siling labuyo you can the mexican small pepper and just sliced it. for your meat requirement, the adobo cut is available in the filipino store.just slice it too into small pieces. the procedure for cooking is the same all anywhere in bicol. in naga there is bikol express always in naga garden restaurant located near the plaza rizal. for the more adventurous every night sidewalk vendors also sell bicol expressm near the plaza

    Jul 13, 2006 | 7:02 am


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