Despite enjoying other cuisines readily available living here in Chicago, there’s nothing like going back to the foods I ate as a child. Pancit Palabok (Filipino spaghetti) is definitely one of my favorites. This is a rice noodle dish with a flavorful shrimp sauce, crispy pork cracklings, sliced egg, and a bit of lemon juice. Maybe think of it as a shrimp-flavored seafood spaghetti of sorts. The combination of ingredients may be odd to those unfamiliar with Filipino cuisine, but I assure you that this dish is a favorite of many Filipinos. I can easily devour this since it brings back so many memories! I previously made this using a packaged mix [gasp!] but after much practice in perfecting the dish the way I like it, I finally have a recipe to share.Print
1 tablespoon annato seeds + 1/2 cup hot water
3–5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 cups shrimp broth
2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)
2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water
1 cup finely minced shrimp, uncooked.
1 package Pancit Luglug (thick, dried rice noodles)
1/2 cup crushed pork rinds
1–2 hard boiled eggs, sliced lemon slices
1/4 cup sliced green onions
- In a large bowl, place the dried pancit luglug and pour hot boiling water enough to cover. Set aside to soften.
- In a small bowl, combine the annato seeds and hot water. Stir to dissolve slightly and set aside
- In a large wok over medium high heat, add your oil, garlic and onions. Saute until softened.
- Add the shrimp broth, fish sauce and only the liquid from the annato seeds. Discard the seeds.
- Allow the mixture to come to a boil. Add the minced shrimp and slowly add the slurry of cornstarch/water to thicken.
- Add the softened pancit luglug to the wok and toss to coat. Let the noodles sit in the sauce to fully absorb.
- When ready to serve, place the noodles on a platter and garnish with crushed pork rinds, sliced hard-boiled eggs, lemon slices, and green onion
original Joelen recipe
Key Ingredients in Filipino Spaghetti and Their Significance
- Rice Noodles (Bihon): These are thin rice noodles that act as the base for the dish. They’re light and absorbent, which makes them the perfect choice for holding the sauce.
- Shrimp Sauce: Made from ground shrimp and flavored with annatto seeds, this sauce adds depth and richness.
- Toppings: From boiled pork, crushed chicharrón (pork rinds), to hard-boiled eggs and scallions, these toppings add texture and flavor contrasts, elevating the overall dish.
- Seasonings: A combination of garlic, black pepper, and fish sauce enhances the dish’s overall flavor profile.
Pancit Palabok vs. Pancit Malabon
While both dishes use thick rice noodles and a shrimp-based sauce, Pancit Malabon, native to the city of Malabon in the Philippines, is heavier on seafood and has a more robust flavor. It’s akin to comparing apples and oranges; both are fruit, yet so distinct.
Pairing your Filipino Spaghetti Recipe
Like wine with cheese, pairing your Palabok with complementary dishes can elevate your dining experience. Consider these:
- Lumpiang Shanghai: These Filipino spring rolls are the perfect crunchy companion.
- Sinigang: The tanginess of this soup offsets the Palabok’s richness.
Health Benefits of Filipino Spaghetti
While Pancit Palabok is undoubtedly indulgent, it packs a nutritional punch:
- Shrimp: High in protein and low in calories, they’re a health enthusiast’s delight.
- Garlic: Known for its medicinal properties, it’s a powerhouse.
- Eggs: A protein-packed addition that offers a range of vitamins.
The cultural significance
Pancit, in Filipino culture, symbolizes long life and good health. It’s a staple at birthdays and significant events. Palabok, with its layers, represents the complexities and beauty of life.
Tips and tricks
- Use calamansi instead of lemon for an authentic touch.
- Don’t skimp on toppings. They add layers of flavor and texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I substitute for annatto powder? Paprika or turmeric can be used, though they’ll alter the flavor slightly.
How long can I store Pancit Palabok? Refrigerate within two hours of cooking, and it should be good for up to three days.
Is there a vegetarian version? Absolutely! Replace the shrimp sauce with a mushroom-based sauce and omit the meat toppings.
How can I make the dish spicier? Consider adding red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the shrimp gravy.
Can I freeze Pancit Palabok? While possible, it’s recommended to consume fresh for the best taste and texture.
What’s the difference between Pancit and Palabok? “Pancit” is a generic term for noodles in Filipino cuisine. Palabok refers to the specific dish with its signature toppings and sauce.