Check out our Bicol Express with texturized soy protein. I know, WHAT?!

Bicol Express with two green chillies on top
Our Bicol Express

Before you freak out at the sacrilege, please know that we’re trying to lessen our meat consumption.

Bicol Express with texturized soy protein
We mixed half texturized soy protein with half pork belly for this less-meat Bicol Express recipe

We’re still beginners, and frankly, I can’t stand having only that for any dish, but we find that cooking together half of the meat and half of the soy protein creates a pretty good balance.

On its own, I don’t think soy protein will ever completely taste like meat (unless it’s laden with sauce). It’s chewy and flavor profile-wise, bland and soy protein-y. No, don’t think of tofu.

A close up look of cooked texturized soy protein
It’s round and chewy

As for this rice-inducing favorite, the pork belly lends some meaty taste to the soy protein bits, provided that it simmered long and well in the flavorful coconut milk sauce.

This is the second time I mixed up the protein in our ulam, and I say it goes well with saucy ones like our previous trial with pininyahang manok.

what's inside Texturized soy protein
Here’s what it looks like inside

Given the rising cost of meats, and all our health signs pointing us to consume more plant-based foods, texturized soy protein is an accessible, more affordable, and versatile alternative.

Dehydrated texturized soy protein
Dehydrated texturized soy protein


1 cup texturized soy protein (soak in water)

1 cup sliced pork belly

2 thumbs of ginger (sliced thinly)

5 cloves ginger (chopped)

1 medium onion (sliced)

5 pcs green chilies (siling pamaksiw, seeded and sliced thinly)

Bird’s eye chilies (use according to your heat tolerance)

250 ml coconut milk

Optional: 1-2 tbsp Bagoong (shrimp paste) according to your taste


  1. Saute the aromatics, then add the pork belly.
  2. Season with patis or salt (what ever you prefer).
  3. Once the pork belly is browned, you can add the bagoong and saute. Note: we didn’t use bagoong for this recipe.
  4. Add the coconut milk, sliced green chillies, and bird’s eye chillies. Lower the heat and simmer.
  5. Add the soaked texturized soy protein and simmer until pork and protein is tender.

Where to get it

It’s usually available as “vegetarian meat” or “texturized vegetable protein” in vegetarian or Asian aisles in the grocery but is also available in specialty stores in Lazada or Shopee.

Soak, then cook as you would your meat.

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