Pilar Express, reinvented Bicol express

A cuisine always evolves and is ever changing, sometimes reaching new heights of taste and flavor.

Food is very important to Filipino culture, it reflects how we express ourselves. While food satisfies hunger and cravings, it also reflects culture and values.

Filipinos are known for being innovative and inventive. Being such, they are able to produce mouthwatering dishes using their creativity, experience and infusing bits of history and culture in innovating or reinventing a certain dish.

Fifty-eight-year-old Rannie Luzon of Pilar, Sorsogon has spent thirty years of his life cooking and has already mastered preparing one of the hidden treasures of the locale.

Armed with his experience and mastery in the culinary industry, he decided to open a small eatery at Brgy. Calongay, Pilar, Sorsogon.

If you’re into seafood, one of his main offerings, Pilar Express, is just for you!

Pilar Express is a dish made from a variety of seafood — including squids, crabs, lobster, shrimps, and shellfish, which will surely test your spice tolerance because of the famous Bicolano ingredient it contains – the siling labuyo.

“Kasi sa Bicol ang tawag Bicol Express, pero ako gumawa ako ng pangalan na kasama ang Pilar, kaya Pilar Express kasi manghang [ito],” Luzon said in an interview with Bicoldotph.

Luzon chose to use Pilar’s abundant sea food harvest as the main ingredient for his dish with a hint of Bicolano culture’s spiciness.

The seafoods are cooked for 10-15 minutes in boiling water then set aside for the white sauce made of fresh coconut milk with different spices which makes it creamer and more flavorful.

“Ang pinakakakaiba dito [sa Pilar Express], sa unang subo mo palang wala kang matitikman, pero habang tumatagal lalong sumasarap at sumisipa ang anghang,” Luzon explained.

Pilar Express can only be found in Pilar and only at Luzon’s eatery.

Luzon says it’s quite a challenge having just opened his eatery but his optimism outweighs all odds and looks forward to becoming among Pilar’s core treasures.

Recognizing this local dish empowers the feats of Pilar, not just as a coastal municipality of Sorsogon, but also the home of Pilar Express – beating the heat of spiciness in every Bikolano delicacy. | Aaron John Baluis

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