Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kinunot na Pagi

It was only lately that we realized that Kinunot na Pagi elevated into a family favorite. My papa would always prepare Kinunot everytime he would chance upon fresh pagi (sting ray) in the market. When I was a child, I thought then that the dish was a for adults only, its too spicy and hot... and its not hotdog, nor pork nor chicken therefore its not for me. Things changed when my papa prepared a milder version of the kinunot.

I don't really know which part of the Bicol region the kinunot originated,  but at Donsol, from where my papa was raised, aside from butanding (whale shark), there is also plenty of sting ray. "Kinunot" in Tagalog means "hinimay" (flaked) and "pagi" is sting ray. Some would substitute the pagi with pating (shark). I still prefer the pagi though.

I will share with you the recipe taught by no less than my papa, but first let me give you some tips. You don't find much pagi in the market. If you dont know how it looks like, the market vendor might make buy shark meat instead! usually sold in cuts, pagi got plenty of small soft cartiledges, its got smooth spotted skin. Avoid "mapanghi na pagi" we only want good quality meat.


1/2 kg pagi
1 coconut grated (set aside the kakang gata)
1 cup malunggay
1 medium sized onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
small ginger, crushed
3/4 cup vinegar
5 pcs siling haba, sliced
2 siling labuyo
salt and pepper


1. Boil the cut pagi and ginger  for 10-15 minutes or until meat can be easily pulled from the cartilages. (Tip: Adding ginger takes the "lansa" / strong fishy taste off seafood dishes)

2. Drain the water and let it cool. Peel skin off and flake the pagi by pulling the meat from its cartilages.

3. Combine pagi flakes, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the pagi flakes to the marinade.Completely drain off vinegar after an hour.

4. In a medium heat, combine coconut cream, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.  Stir continuously. After about 5 minutes, add the pagi flakes and malunggay. Simmer until coconut milk is almost dry.

5. Add the kakang gata (thick coconut cream), sliced siling haba and siling labuyo (you can adjust the proportions to suit the hotness of your dish. Simmer again until coconut cream is thick and almost dry.

  • Always add the kakang gata just before the dish is done.
  • DO NOT ADD corn starch or flour just to thicken - its a major sin in cooking gata dishes.

Enjoy your kinunot.

Did you find this post helpful? Share your Kinunot experience, would love to hear from you.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Authentic Bicol Express


I guess it is just but right to start off this blog with the very famous, prized dish from the Bicol Region. Also, since I derived the name of my blog from this dish, the more the reason for this grand dish to be my very first post.

How many of you have tried the authentic Bicol Express? How would you know its the real deal? Simple, it has to be real HOT - thats right - "MAANGHANG". You won't be giving justice to the dish, if its not maanghang (hot). If you can't make it hot, or you do not like it hot, please don't call it Bicol Express - maybe just call it Binagoongan sa Gata. No offense meant -  but its plain mockery without the anghang.

If you get the chance to be invited into a Bicolano's household, grab this chance to request for Bicol Express. They will prepare it they way it should be - authentic.

Traditional Bicol Express got less meat, more alamang, more siling haba and siling labuyo. I guess you've already heard "mas marami pa ang sili kesa sa karne". I would always laugh because they though this is just a myth - its actually the truth!!

Top Image:  served at La Roca Veranda, Legazpi City. 
Right Image: my version of Bicol Express 
Image Below: served at Caramoan

Now you don't have to visit Bicol to try authentic:

1/4 kg pork kasim, cut in small cube
1 coconut, grated and cream expressed
       (set aside kakang gata)
       (how Bicolano do proper gata / coco cream)
1/4 cup fresh alamang
15 pcs siling haba, sliced
2 pcs siling labuyo, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
small ginger, crushed

1. Combine coconut cream, pork, garlic, onion, ginger, salt and pepper in a heavy bottom pan. Stir continuously over medium heat until coconut cream is almost dry. 
2. Add kakang gata, alamang, sliced siling haba and siling labuyo. Stir constantly until coco cream is thick.
3. You have the option of drying it more in low heat. This will extract the coconut oil making your dish "nagmamantika"
3. Serve hot.

  • Authentic Bicol gata dishes never uses instant gata ready mixes.
  • NEVER add corn starch or flour to thicken the dish - this is a mortal sin
  • Always add the kakang gata just before the dish is almost done
  • Fresh alamang is preferred over bottled or preserved bagoong
  • DO NOT wash sliced siling haba (wash it before slicing, but once sliced do not wash it)
  • Adding ginger takes the "lansa" off the dish

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