It’s Lenten season once again. For many of us, this is a time to take a break from meat and explore new seafood and vegetable-based alternatives. Thankfully, eating healthy doesn’t have to mean putting up with just salads or steamed fish anymore.
With Que Rica’s lent-friendly offerings, you can still enjoy big, hearty flavors while following a pesco-vegetarian diet. These dishes are prepared in small batches in our kitchen by an all-Bicolana team, and they showcase the region’s expertise in cooking seafood and vegetables.
Our not-so-secret ingredient? Fresh coconut milk. When cooked expertly, it creates a rich, creamy sauce that gives dishes a decadent feel even without animal fat.
It’s no wonder three of Bicol’s most iconic dishes, namely laing, pinangat, and sinantolan feature coconut milk as the main ingredient. Gata is inseparable from our heritage cuisine, as it gives Bicolano food their distinct flavor profiles.
So, which of our lent essentials should you try first? Start with our Vegetarian Laing. It’s available in frozen and bottled versions, and is a great option for those looking for a low-carb, high-fat meal. We also have new varieties like Laing with Shrimps for those who need protein in their meals, and Laing Lasagna (layered with our homemade tomato concasse) for cheese-loving pasta fans.
Another must-try is our Sinantolan. As the name implies, its main ingredient is santol, or cotton fruit. We mince it, then stew it in coconut milk, shrimp paste, and aromatics to create a creamy, tangy side dish that goes well with fried, grilled and even dried fish. You can pair it with our Abo Dried Fish (Tiger-Toothed Croaker) and Biti Dried Fish (dried, salted Abo bladder), or use it as a dip for crackers and chips.
You also can’t go wrong with our Bicol Pinangat. Originating from the town of Camalig in Albay, this rustic dish is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. If you’re unfamiliar with it, think of Pinangat as the calzone to laing’s pizza. The main difference is that the proteins are stuffed inside the taro leaves instead of being mixed into them.
Our version of pinangat has shrimp, smoked fish, coconut meat, coconut milk, lemongrass, and aromatics which we cook for hours over low heat. This results in a smoky, fork-tender dish that goes well in rice or grains like adlai and quinoa. Pair it with fried or grilled fish for an authentic, country-inspired meal.
Sinanglay is another Bicolano favorite that also follows the cooked-inside-leaves technique. This dish swaps out the gabi leaves for pechay, the smoked fish for tilapia fillets, and adds onions, ginger, garlic, kamias and tomatoes for aromatics. It’s a lighter option for those who prefer gentler, brighter flavors.
And if these are still a bit too exotic for non-adventurous eaters like kids, you can always go with a safe pick like our Vegan Bicol Express (made with unripe Jackfruit and miso) for your everyday meals. Meanwhile, our Rakenrol Chips (Rainbow Cassava Chips) paired with Santol with Laing works great as a hearty snack. Excited to try these beloved regional favorites yet? Just look for Que Rica products in these locations, or get them conveniently delivered to your door through our online store.