Pancit Palabok
Recipes

Pancit – Palabok, Bihon and Canton | On a Filipino food trail at home

Pancit Palabok

I’m taking a breather from Bengali cuisine. It’s been long that I’ve been writing on Bengali food only, juxtaposed against living in Dubai. This is but very natural since we come from Bengal. There’s a lot of experiments on Bengali cuisine in our kitchen – Bengali food and non-Bengali food – both traditional and fusion. There is also another type of cuisine that is cooked on a fairly regular basis in our kitchen. That is Filipino food, courtesy, our Lady M who hails from Bikol. Located in the southernmost tip of Luzon Island, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago, Bicol or Bikol is known for it’s spicy cuisine. Bikol has had a history of trade relations with the Malay-Indonesian kingdoms, India and Arabia. Naturally, the cuisine of Bikol is influenced by these associations, even resulting in a signature Biriyani dish!

Filipina nanny in the life of a Dubai expat

Once Lady M and I had co-created a Filipino-Bengali fusion dish… the Rashulla Macapuno. It has been aired on a local TV channel. It’s my tribute to Lady M without whom my endless photographic sessions on food experiments would never have materialised. She’s also been a mother to Li’l Z, having missed out on bringing up her own kids as she has been staying far away from home to earn the money that is required to raise them comfortably. It is estimated that between 9.5 million to 12.5 million Filipinos work or reside abroad, many taking up jobs that they haven’t been doing back in their country. So while Lady M had been working as a cashier in Manila, she looked after our home and our children in Dubai. She did mention many times that she often thought about getting a more respectable job. We hope to give her the respect that she feels that she earned while she was working as a cashier back home.

Going on a tangent… if staying with a person who hails from a different culture doesn’t inspire us, what else can? The real essence of living in a city like Dubai is that for a Filipina who’s turned into a Bong, there is also a Bengali ME who’s turned into a Filipina!

There are also many restaurants in Dubai from where one can get a fair dose of Filipino food. In fact, contrary to popular belief, Filipino food can be quite elaborate and the cooking process has been influenced by the countries Philippines had trade relationship with. For example, Malay, Indian, Arab, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, American and other Asian and Latin countries. [wiki explains here]

Pancit/Noodles – Palabok, Bihon, Canton

Pancit or Pansit is the Filipino term for Noodles. In Philippines, once can find Panciterias or shops specialising only in noodles. The following read is interesting:

  • There are around 30 variations of Pancit that are available
  • Noodles were introduced into the Philippines by the Chinese and have since been adopted into the Filipino local cuisine. Other Chinese influences in Filipino cooking is Toyo/Soy sauce; Tokwa/tofu; Tawge/Bean sprout and Patis/Fish sauce as well as the method of stir frying and making thick soup bases
  • According to Chinese food lore handed down, noodles should be eaten on one’s birthday. Since noodles represent long life and good health; they must not be cut short! Chinese restaurants in the Philippines often have birthday noodles as part of their special menus
  • There’s no time for eating Pancit or Rice for that matter. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and in between
  •  It can be had by mixing only Pancit and Rice together with some left over dish or simply with dried fish pickle

Pancit Palabok with seafood and chicherron

Pancit Palabok and Pancit Luglug are more or less the same. In the latter, thicker noodles are used than the traditional Palabok (above)Pancit Palabok is more like the Burmese Khauk swè thohk – wheat noodle salad with dried shrimps, cabbage and carrots, garnished with fried peanut oil, fish sauce, fried onions, garlic and lime. You are supposed to vary these every time you serve yourself and the taste completely varies. The Pancit is served first then the thick meat sauce or broth and then the various garnishes – fried shrimp, shrimp sauce, fried garlic, boiled pork, hard-boiled egg (sliced into smaller pieces), fresh green spring onions (chopped), Tinapa (smoked fish flakes) and Chicharon (crushed pork crackling, shown in the left picture below). The Chicharrón looks like prawn chips and we have sprinkled these over for friends who do not eat pork. Not the same smell though! Squeeze a lot of lime and the Pancit Palabok is ready to be slurped up.

Pancit Palabok is a very popular communal comfort food and why should it not be? When you slurp up a fork twisting in some thin white Rice vermicelli noodles dripping with meat sauce and shriek as a few drop of the sauce splatters on your clothes, you’ll realise the comfort that surrounds you for sure. The entire Pancit Palabok entourage is shown below!

Pancit Palabok with seafood

Chicharrón is a dish generally consisting of fried pork belly or fried pork rinds. Pancit

Pancit Palabok

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category – Main Meal; Cuisine type – Filipino

Recipe contains Pork and Beef but that can be easily substituted with Lamb and Chicken

Ingredients

Pancit
Special Palabok Noodles – 1 pack (Please check for the word ‘palabok’ written in the pack. You may have Bihon type of Rice Noodles which are really thin or the Pancit Luglug where the strands of Rice Vermicelli are relatively thicker than the Bihon type)

Meat Sauce or Broth
2 big onions, finely chopped
5 pods of garlic, crushed
2tbsp patis / fish sauce
200 gms beef or pork, minced and pounded
100 gms shrimps, shelled, deveined and cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp black pepper, grounded
salt as per taste
2 tbsp Achuete or annatto seeds, pre-soaked in 1/4 cup water for a few minutes to give the bright orange colour  (Annatto is safe for most people when used in food amounts; however, it can cause rare allergic reactions for those who are sensitive. Read more)
3 tbsp all purpose flour or corn Starch,  dissolved in 1/4 cup water
2tbsp white oil

Garnishing or Toppings
100 gms boiled meat (beef or pork), thinly sliced
Tinapa/smoked tuna flakes from 2-3 pieces smoked fish, cooked, deboned and flaked
8 pieces Tokwa/tofu, fried and cubed
1 cup Chicharrón, crushed (fried pork belly or fried pork rinds. Chicharrón may also be made from chicken, mutton or beef.)
3 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
1/2 cup spring onions, chopped finely
1 cup shrimps, boiled and chopped
10 pods garlic, sliced and fried crisply
6 pieces Calamansi/lime (Calamansi is a kind of lime available in all Filipino kitchens and is perhaps the secret ingredient to many mouthwatering Filipino delicacies – from popular desserts like Leche Flan to adding that magic sour flavour to Pancit Palabok and other Filipino dishes)

Method

Pancit

  • Boil the Palabok/rice noodles for 3-4 minutes. Drain the water and set aside (the noodles should be soft but not soggy).

Broth

  • Heat white oil in a wok
  • Fry the onions and garlic till they are brown
  • Add Patis/fish Sauce, mince meat, ground black pepper and salt
  • Add 2 cups of boiled water, cover the wok with a lid and let the broth simmer for a while in low flame
  • Add the soaked Annatto and let the broth boil till the mince meat is done
  • Add the boiled shrimps at the last
  • Add the corn starch and let the broth thicken by boiling for 5 more minutes

How do we serve Palabok?
Serve Pancit on a plate, pour the mince meat broth over it, sprinkle Tinapa flakes, crushed Chicharon, Tokwa pieces, fried garlic, boiled eggs, boiled shrimps and freshly chopped spring onions. Squeeze Calamansi or lime generously. This is our favourite of all Pancits that LF cooks at home.

Different steps to make Pancit Palabok with seafood at homeDifferent steps to make Pancit Palabok with seafood at home

Pancit Palabok with seafood and chicherron


 

Pancit Bihon

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category – Main Meal; Cuisine type – Filipino

Recipe contains Pork and Beef but that can be easily substituted with Lamb and Chicken

Pancit Bihon are very thin rice noodles. It’s accompanied by fried meat slices, chopped fresh vegetables, soy sauce, Patis/fish sauce and definitely Chinese sausage and cabbage.

Ingredients

Pancit
Special Bihon Noodles – 1 pack

For Meat & Vegetables
2 big onions, finely chopped
5 pods garlic, crushed
2tbsp Patis/fish sauce
200 gms beef or pork, stripped into thin pieces
2 carrots, sliced into thin strips
French beans, sliced angularly
1 small cabbage, julienned
3 tbsp Toyo/soy sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper, grounded
salt as per taste
2tbsp white oil

Method

Pancit

  • Boil the Pancit Bihon/rice noodles for 3-4 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.(The noodles should be soft but not soggy)

Meat & Vegetables

  • Heat white oil in a wok
  • Fry the onions and garlic till they are brown
  • Add the Patis/fish sauce, meat strips, ground black pepper, salt
  • Add 1/2 cup of boiled water, cover the wok with a lid and let the meat simmer for a while in low seam
  • Add the chopped carrots, cabbage and french beans and let them cook for a while (the vegetables should be cooked but not turn soggy and soft)
  • Mix the meat and the vegetables to the Pancit

Pancit Bihon


Pancit Canton

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Category – Main Meal; Cuisine type – Filipino; Note – Spicy

Recipe contains Pork and Beef but that can be easily substituted with Lamb and Chicken 

Pancit Canton are thick flour noodles. This dish closely resembles the Chinese chowmein. But LF sometimes cooks another favourite dish of ours called Bikol Express (see recipe of mixed Seafood Bikol Express from my blog).

Ingredients

Pancit
Pancit Canton Noodles – 1 pack

Bikol Express
2 big onions, finely chopped
5 pods of garlic, crushed
1 can coconut milk
500 gms pork belly, cubed
200 gms string beans, chopped into long slices
1 pumpkin, small and cubed
1/2 tsp black pepper, grounded
6 long Thai green chilli or Serrano pepper, cut into long slices
1/2 cup shrimp aste
salt as per taste
2tbsp white oil

Method

Pancit
Boil the Pancit Canton/rice noodles for 3-4 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.(The noodles should be soft but not soggy)

Meat & Vegetables

  • Heat White oil in a wok
  • Fry the onions and garlic till they are brown
  • Add coconut milk, pork cubes, ground black pepper, salt, long green chillies, shrimp paste and stir fry
  • Cover the wok with a lid and let the meat simmer for a while in low seam
  • Add the chopped string beans, pumpkin cubes and let them cook for a while (the vegetables should be cooked but not turn soggy and soft)
  • Mix the Bikol Express to the Pancit

Pancit Canton with spicy Bikol Express

Pancit Canton with spicy Bikol Express


Thanks to Lady M, we have been introduced to the delicious world of Filipino cuisine. She has also learnt how to cook Bengali food and has become quite a pro at it. She’s become a part of our family. Gulf News, the leading newspaper in this region, once featured a blog, True life story of Filipina Maid in Dubai. It is quite an interesting take on the Filipino diaspora residing in Dubai and resonates the lives and moments of thousands of thousands of maids employed in the UAE.

Working for a couple with two school-going children, Sally describes the daily details of looking after children, cleaning house, stealing time to catch up on gossip with neighbouring maids, the joys of computer-educating herself, her pangs of homesickness, her best friend Lilibeth and her devious plans to make money, all with a generous dose of humour, some of it dark, and some outright tears-in-your-eyes moments.

Don’t judge her English or the grammar. I feel that it’s a reflection into our inner minds as well!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

 

Edited in January 2018: Just realised that my instagram post above - six years after I wrote this post, reflects the same emotions about Lady M even now!

Thank you for joining me on my daily food and travel journey on Pinterest, InstagramFacebook and Twitter! Much love – Ishita

Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. 

A Culinary Travel Blog by a Bong Gourmet. From Dubai, Kolkata & the world beyond, street food to fine dining, recipes to chef talks, it pens down experiences. With 2 kids in tow!

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