Chicken Bicol Express with Sigarilyas

Different protein, same spicy coconut stew. This Bicol Express makes use of chicken and sigarilyas (winged beans) for a variation that's just as easy to make.
4 servings
Prep Time
05 Mins
Active Time
25 Mins

While Bicol Express is traditionally made with pork, its rich, chili-flecked coconut gravy goes great with most proteins. This recipe uses boneless chicken thighs for a quick-cooking yet flavorful variation.

What is Bicol Express?
Bicol Express is a spicy Filipino stew made with two signature ingredients of Bicol cuisine: fiery-hot chilies and creamy coconut milk. Cely Kalaw, who is widely credited for inventing and popularizing the dish, named it after the old railway connecting Manila and Albay.

Sigarilyas or winged beans feel right at home in Bicol Express. After all, they're the star ingredient of another spicy coconut-based dish: gising-gising. Add them at the last step to avoid overcooking—the crisp beans adds a delightful contrast to the tender chicken.

  • 600-700g boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp small diced red onion
  • 1 ½ tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 siling haba (green chilies), sliced diagonally
  • 2-3 tbsp sliced siling labuyo (red chilies)
  • ¼ cup fresh shrimp paste, balaw, or alamang
  • 1–1 ½ cup fresh coconut cream
  • 1 cup sliced sigarilyas (winged beans)

Prepare chicken: Slice chicken thigh fillets into ¼-inch thick pieces. Set aside.


Cook chicken: Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add red onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until aromatics are fragrant. Add chicken and cook until pieces are white and heated through.


Add shrimp paste: Using a spoon or clean hands, squeeze the shrimp paste to drain it of its brine. Add drained paste and chilies to the pan, then cook for 1–2 minutes.


Add coconut cream and finish: Pour coconut cream into the pan. Reduce heat until simmering and let cook, stirring from time to time, until meat is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir sigarilyas into the mixture and cook until tender, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a shallow bowl and serve with hot rice.

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