SILI

Siling Labuyo

sili
hot pepper

labuyo
any plant that grows in the wild

Siling labuyo are small, slender chili peppers having the scientific name Capsicum frutescens.

Despite the name, siling labuyo is commonly grown in Filipino backyard gardens. It is also called “Philippine Bird’s Eye pepper” because of its shape. Other English names given to this species include Thai pepper and boonie pepper.  It comes in bright colors such as green, yellow, orange and red.

Siling labuyo is used to add spice and color to dishes. An example would be bopis. You can also find siling labuyo at the bottom of homemade bottles of vinegar.  The chilies are frequently added whole. It is even eaten raw. Traveling the Philippine countryside, you may spot siling labuyo drying out in the sun.

Bicolano cuisine is famous for using siling labuyo in cooking. There is a dish popularly known among Filipinos as Bicol Express, which is known as sinilihan (made with sili) in the Bikolano language. It is a meat stew that also has coconut milk as a prominent ingredient.

Bicol Express (Bicolano dish)
Bicol Express (iconic dish of the Bicolano people)

The green leaves of the plant (dahon ng sili) are also used in Filipino cuisine such as in the chicken stew tinola.