Crispy Tofu Vegan Bicol Express

Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 5 Mins Cook Time: 15 Mins Total Time: 20 Mins

Bicol Express is a dish popularly known by its funky name inspired by the Manila to Legazpi railway train. This traditional Bicolano style stew is characterised by coconut milk and (lots of) chilli. As with many Filipino dishes, there are a ton of different variations. The crispy vegan Bicol Express version is a personal preference since I’m totally a junk food vegan.

This vegan Bicol Express is quicker to cook and easier on your health than the non-vegan version. There isn’t a whole bunch of animal fat that you have to slowly stew and render. It’s just a matter of battering and frying the tofu. Then drenching it with the spicy creamy sauce. If you have access to vegan lechon kawaliย from Manila grocers or vegan pork belly from Chinese grocers,ย  it would be awesome in this.

According to some people, there should be an equal ratio of chilli to meat so that every mouthful is fiery. If you like the aesthetic but not so much the spice, remove the seeds from the chillies before cooking.

Also, there is no good reason to have as much onions as I have. I have a weird thing where I don’t keep onions and have to use the whole thing once I cut it, so… make your own decisions ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ve had my mind on Bicol after Super Typhoon Rolly and Ulyssus decimated the region. As these destructive weather events wreak increasing havoc on the Philippines, it reaffirms the urgency for us to take climate action now. Aside from campaigning our community leaders, we can also make a huge contribution by adopting a vegan diet. Check out #ReliefPH efforts via Facebook or Instagram to donate to typhoon relief.

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0/14 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
  • Batter


0/8 Instructions
  • Mix the batter ingredients with 100ml of water.
  • Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces and mix into the batter.
  • Heat about 800ml or four fingers depth of oil in a large and deep saucepan. Drip a small amount of batter into the oil, if the batter cooks and rises immediately, the oil is hot enough. Deep fry the tofu until golden, then remove and set aside.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan and fry the onions and garlic.
  • When the onions are softened, add the fermented bean paste, mix well and be careful not to burn.
  • Add the coconut milk and bird's eye chillies. Cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the coconut cream, vegetable stock powder, and finger chillies. Turn heat down to low and simmer for about 3 minutes or until desired thickness. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the fried tofu into the pan and mix quickly. Serve hot with rice.


#batter  #chilli  #coconut milk  #tofu  

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