Unlike other Filipino noodle dishes, in Pancit Palabok the noodles are covered with a thick sauce and toppings rather than stir-fried with the ingredients. I was inspired to cook this recipe after a colleague brought some of their palabok to work for me to try. The sauce is flavoured with shrimp and coloured with anatto which gives it a lovely, deep and rich orange colour. The usual toppings for Pancit Palabok include cooked shrimp, pork, hard-boiled eggs, smoked flaked fish, fried tofu, spring onions, fried garlic and chicharon.
Whilst I was cooking this recipe my family made an interesting observation about Filipino food. Sometimes a component of the recipe doesn’t seem right until you combine it with all parts of the dish. This is because it’s the ingredients in total that create the balance of the sweet (tamis), sour (asim), and salty (alat) flavours that we enjoy and expect in Filipino cuisine. What we can learn from this is the importance of balancing the flavours and if we can identify which is lacking we know how to perfect the dish.
[bctt tweet=”Balancing flavours is the key to delicious Filipino dishes! #ItsMoreYumInThePhilippines” username=”moreyumintheph”]
One of the challenges I face in Australia is finding chicharon, it is not stocked in our supermarkets so when my supply from the Philippines runs out I have to cook without it. Luckily the taste of this Pancit Palabok is so delicious I didn’t even miss it!
- 12 shrimps with shells
- 3 cups water
- 200 g pork belly finely cubed
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp seafood bouillon/stock
- 1 tbsp anatto powder
- 1 cup cold water extra
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
- black pepper
- 1 tbsp oil extra
- 100 g firm tofu cubed
- 4 hardboiled eggs peeled and quartered
- 5 spring onions finely sliced
- 1 tbsp fried garlic
- 1/2 cup tinapa flaked
- 1/2 cup chicharon
- 1 packet rice noodles (approx. 400g)
- calamansi or lemon
- Remove the heads and shells from the shrimp, reserve the meat. Roughly chop the heads and shells then place in a saucepan along with the water.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, skim any impurities from the surface. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture to remove the shells. Reserve the liquid.
- In another saucepan heat the oil and fry the pork for about 5 minutes or until golden.
- Add the reserved liquid and seafood stock. Bring to a gentle simmer while stirring occasionally.
- Combine the anatto power with 1/2 cup additional water and add to the pan. Mix to combine. Cook 2 minutes.
- Combine the flour with the remaining half-cup of cold water, then add the the pan, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- Season with patis and black pepper, then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.
- Heat a small frypan and add oil, then cook the reserved shrimp for 3 minutes or until they have changed colour. Remove and set aside.
- Using the same pan, add the tofu and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.
- Assemble the prepared prawns, tofu, hardboiled eggs, flaked tinapa, spring onions, fried garlic and chicharon onto a plate ready to top the noodles.
- Cook the rice noodles according to packet directions.
- In each serving bowl, place some noodles, top with a generous spoon of the shrimp sauce and add toppings in this order; prawn, egg, tofu, tinapa, chicharon, garlic and spring onions.
- Serve with calamansi or lemon!
If you are unable to get tinapa flakes you can substitute smoked salmon which will still give a similar taste.
Need help with the Filipino ingredients? Check out the glossary.