Pancit Palabok is a tasty Filipino noodle dish, well-known for its rich yellow-orange shrimp sauce and appetizing garnishes such as shrimp, tofu, crushed chicharon, tinapa bits, chopped onion springs and sliced eggs. Its closest local variations are Pancit Malabon and Pancit Luglog. They only differ on the way they are garnished and on the type of noodles used. Palabok uses thin strands of bihon (rice noodles) whereas Malabon and Luglog use the thicker variants.
|Palabok when literally translated means garnished|
Our local carinderia (local eatery that serves home made dishes) always serves this dish in the morning and since childhood, this has been a favorite meal for breakfast. My younger brother and I would even fight over whose plate has more toppings on it and so my dad would have to request the crew to give us additional shrimp sauce and chicharon just to pacify us. We just loved the gooey sauce and the colorful garnishes - the fancier, the better - and I think this dish is way better than spaghetti (no offense meant to spaghetti lovers). Some palabok enthusiasts have even gone overboard to experiment on the ingredients by substituting shrimps with crab meat and putting other flavorful toppings and sauces like garlic paste, aligue (crab sauce), mussels, clams, squid slices and a lot more. This is so perfect as potluck to events and parties or just a snack to share with your familes and friends. In the Philippines, this dish has already established a tremendous market in the fastfood industries along with its equally popular Italian and American counterparts such as pasta, burgers and fries. It is surely a distinct dish that anyone can easily fall in love with.
Home-made Pancit Palabok
Number of servings: 6
- 1 lb. bihon (rice noodles)
For the sauce
- ¾ lb. ground pork
- 2 tbsps. cooking oil
- ¼ cup atsuete (achiote or annatto) extract or 1 tbsp. annatto powder
- 3 to 5 tbsps. cornstarch, dissolved in ½ cup shrimp broth
- 4 to 5 cups shrimp broth
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 tbsps. patis (fish sauce)
- ½ tbsp. salt
- ½ tbsp. ground black pepper
For the toppings
- 2 pcs. fried tokwa (tofu), cubed
- ½ cup tinapa (smoked fish) flakes
- ½ cup chicharon (cracklings/ deep fried salted chicken skin or pork rin), crushed
- ½ cup shrimp, boiled
- ½ cup spring onions, finely chopped
- 3 tbsps. fried garlic
- 2 pcs. hardboiled egg, shelled and sliced
- 3 pcs. squid, fried and sliced (optional)
- 8 pcs. calamansi (calamondin)
- Soak the rice noodles in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and dip in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked. Drain and set aside.
- Sauté garlic and onion. Add the ground pork. Stir fry until brown.
- Add the atsuete extract or the dissolved annatto powder and the shrimp broth. Bring to boil.
- Gradually pour in the dissolved cornstarch while continuously stirring until the mixture is well-blended.
- Season with patis, salt and pepper then simmer until the sauce becomes thick. Set aside.
- Place the cooked noodles in a serving plate. Pour the palabok sauce on, garnish with tokwa, eggs, tinapa flakes, shrimp, fried garlic and squids, and then sprinkle with chicharon and onion springs. Just add more toppings according to your liking. Serve with squeezed calamansi. Enjoy!
TIPS FROM ENZ:
- I love to drown my noodles in sauce (good enough to keep my mouth slurpy while devouring the richly flavored thin strands of rice noodles). That is how I enjoy the dish to its maximum potential. If we share the same thing, you do not want to run out of shrimp sauce so you better reserve extra shrimp broth and annatto powder.
- You may add crab meat if desired. (PLUS: Aligue added to the palabok sauce mixture is just heaven but beware if you are on a strict diet as it is loaded with additional calories, fats and irresistible delightfulness.)
- If you love some crunchy texture, you may deep fry the tofu until it becomes crispy and not crush the chicharon too much.