One of my favorite Filipino party food is Pancit Palabok, mine is simple and pretty straightforward even though the sauce is made from scratch, which consists of making a homemade shrimp stock. If using fresh shrimps, the heads can also be used by crushing and grinding them and adding some water and then extracting the juice using a sieve.
In this dish, it’s all about the toppings. Common ones include cooked shrimp, tinapa (smoked fish) flakes, chicharon (pork rinds), hard boiled eggs, fried minced garlic, tofu, scallions (green onions), and lemon juice. Some chefs prefer calamansi juice, often called the Philippine lime or calamondin. Many of these items can be found in a local Asian market.
These flavors are all traditionally Filipino – the brightness of the lemon pairs well with the saltiness of the chicharon and smoked mackerel. The richness of the shrimp sauce cut by the green onion. There’s also a mix of textures – you get a lovely freshness from the smoked mackerel and crunchiness of the chicharon while the egg is soft and creamy. Southeast cuisine is all about using fresh ingredients and combining them in a way that highlights each flavor while creating cohesive contrasts. The end result? A delicious Pancit Palabok – a satisfying, quintessentially Filipino dish.
Pancit Palabok RecipePrint Recipe
- 1 package (8 ounces) rice noodles
- For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon annatto powder
- 5 cups shrimp stock( from the boiled shrimp heads and shrimps)
- 2 pieces shrimp bouillon
- 2 tablespoons reserved bacon grease (from frying bacon)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon reserved garlic oil (from toasting garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the Toppings
- 1/2 pound shrimp
- 1/2 cup mackarel flakes
- 1/2 pound bacon, diced
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup pork cracklings (chicharon), crushed
- 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled and quartered
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- calamansi or lemon, cut into wedges
In a large bowl, soak rice noodles in water for about 2 to 3 minutes or just until softened. Drain well. In a pot over medium heat, bring about 6 cups water to a brisk boil. Add noodles and cook for about 1 minute. Drain well.
Place noodles onto serving plates. Spoon sauce over noodles.
Top with shrimp, chicharon, tinapa flakes, fried bacon, hardboiled eggs, toasted garlic bits and green onions. Serve with calamansi wedges.
For the Toppings
Peel shrimp, leaving tail intact. Reserve shrimp heads. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until color changes. With a slotted spoon, remove shrimp from and set aside. Reserve liquid.
In a pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add tinapa flakes and cook, stirring regularly, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned and heated through. Remove from pan and set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, add chopped bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease.
In a small pan over low heat, heat about 1/4 cup oil. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned and crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove toasted garlic and drain on paper towels. Reserve garlic oil.
For the Sauce
With a knife, coarsely chop reserved shrimp heads. In a pot over medium heat, combine shrimp heads and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to top. Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to extract flavor. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain liquid and discard shrimp solids.
In a bowl, combine shrimp stock (about 4 cups from the shrimp heads and 1 cup reserved from boiling shrimps), reserved garlic oil, shrimp bouillon, and annatto water. Stir well until annatto powder and shrimp bouillon are dissolved and water has changed to orange color.
In a sauce pot over medium heat, add reserved bacon grease. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Whisking vigorously, slowly add shrimp stock mixture. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cook, regularly, for about 5 to 8 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.