‘Pinangat’, ‘kinunot’ and other must-try local dishes in Bicol

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By Anna Valmero

CAMALIG, ALBAY—The land of the majestic Mayon Volcano is also known for mouth-watering local dishes. Thanks to the abundance of coconut trees and siling labuyo (local chili pepper), the typical food fare among Bicolanos has that added creaminess and heat.

During our recent five-day Bicol roadtrip, we veered away from fastfood chains and sought out local eateries to get a taste of these signature Bicolano dishes.

Pinangat and Inolukan. The town of Camalig is known for pinangat, a healthy dish made of shredded gabi or taro leaves, red ginger, shrimps, pork or fish, wrapped in banana leaves.

If you add crabmeat and  slices of young coconuts to the mix, the dish becomes a little sweet and becomes inolukan, a variation of the pinangat. Flavored with crushed siling labuyo, expect to have your pinangat hot and and creamy from the coconut milk. Both costs 35 pesos per order.

Ginataang santol. Santol is a native fruit found in the Philippines but remarkably, most Bicolanos have the tree at their backyards. Looking for a place to have a quick dinner, we chanced upon this dish at a small cafeteria in the town of Sto. Domingo. At 25 pesos per order, this goes well with fish or meat.

Bicol express. Named after the express train that connects Bicol region to Manila, the dish is a favorite pulutan and meal of most Filipinos.

Made with shredded pork, coconut milk, and lots of chili, the dish is best served with a hot cup of steamed rice or washed down with ice-cold beer or sada. The Bicol Express at Let’s Pinangat is definitely spicier than usual!

Kinunot na pagi. A very controversial dish especially among conservationists, this local delicacy is made from sting ray meat. For foodies, the delicate texture of the sting ray meat adds to the novelty of the dish.

Locals have been enjoying kinunot for a long time since most of the Bicol region lies in coastal communities. Like the pinangat and Bicol express, it also uses coconut milk and siling labuyo. Kinunot is served all over Bicol; we had our fill at Cafe Geronimo in the town of Juban in Sorsogon.

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