Pancit palabok is my favorite pancit (noodle dish). Palabok is the Filipino word for garnish or embellishment. But the garnishings in palabok are more than decorations, they make the noodle dish very special and incredibly delicious. I have eaten palabok on a regular basis (almost once a week) in Manila in restaurants and during get-togethers. The pancit can be purchased from stores that sell them made to order, plated on different sizes of banana leaf-lined woven bamboo platters called bilao. Most Filipinos I know including my mother never cook palabok at home because it is tedious to prepare and because there are so many choices of stores in Manila that specialize in the yummiest pancit palabok. Unfortunately for us Filipinos living outside the Philippines and most specially if you are in an area like mine where there are very few Filipinos there is no chance of finding a place that sells or serves very good pancit palabok. We have no choice but to prepare it at home when the craving hits us. I prepared the garnish and shrimp sauce yesterday and assembled the pancit palabok today. It was worth all the time making it, the pancit is utterly delicious!
400 grams fat bihon (rice noodles)
1 tablespoon achiote seeds
¼ cup grapeseed oil
½ cup ground chicharron
¼ cup fish extract
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2½ tablespoons calamansi juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
2 cups shredded napa cabbage, blanched
1 pound medium shrimps, peeled and fried (reserve heads and peels for broth)
1 cup crumbled chicharron
2 cups chopped pork adobo
1 pound squid adobo, sliced
3 hard cooked eggs, sliced
2 tablespoons crumbled fried garlic slices
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
calamansi juice and fish extract
- Soften noodles in room temperature water. When softened, cook in a pot of boiling water until tender but still firm. Drain and set aside.
- In a small skillet heat grapeseed oil and achiote seeds on low heat for 1 minute. Strain and discard seeds. Set oil aside.
- In a large pan, boil 4 cups water and reserved shrimp heads and shells and a dash of salt. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove shells and discard. Add cornstarch mixture and simmer for a few minutes until sauce has thickened. Add the ground chicharron, the achiote oil, black pepper, fish extract, and calamansi juice. Mix well. Add the cooked noodles and toss until noodles are well coated.
- Transfer into a large serving platter. Top with shredded cabbage, shrimps, pork adobo, chopped chicharron, squid, garlic, spring onions, and sliced eggs. Serve with calamansi juice and fish extract on the side.