Thursday, January 22, 2015

FOODIEO: Pancit Palabok (Rice Noodles with Shrimp)

During our amazing trip to the Philippines, we were blessed to have eaten so many deliciously authentic Filipino dishes. I especially hunted for childhood comfort food I grew up eating.

On our first day in Manila, we had one of my favourites, pancit palabok, a rice noodle dish influenced by Chinese settlers in the Philippines. There are many varieties of pancit noodle dishes and this particular pancit is called "palabok" because of the bright orange sauce. Palabok is spiced with annatto seasoning (atsuete in Filipino) known as a natural food colouring that also gives dishes a hint of sweet peppery flavour.

My Mom would save pancit palabok for special occasions like on birthdays or Christmas because the shrimp sauce was made from scratch and took time to cook. It was always the crowning glory on the buffet table taking centre stage for it's delectable presentation of thick white rice noodles, coated with a bright orange shrimp-flavoured sauce. It was topped with a colourful assortment of garnishes including a dusting of crushed chicharon (pork crackling) and flaked tinapa, shrimp, pork, boiled eggs, prawns, and finished with a squeeze of sweet citrusy calamansi. Also, it tasted amazing!!!

I was determined to make pancit palabok, for my first time, in my Mom's childhood home in Quezon City. Luckily it was a success and have a FOODIEO: Pancit Palabok to show you how easy it is to make at home.

500g package of Filipino thick rice noodles (lug lug)
1 lb peeled & devined shrimp (heads reserved)
1 lb ground pork
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
4 cups water
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp atsuete powder
1/2 cup cornstarch (+ 1/4 cup water)
2 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
Salt & pepper to taste

Chicharon Mix
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups crushed chicharon (pork crackling)
1/2 cup tinapa flakes (smoked fish)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced

1/2 cup cooked pork
5-8 pieces of cooked shrimp
dusting of chicharon mix
4 boiled eggs, sliced in quarters
2 green onions, sliced
8-10 calamansi, halved (or sub with lemon or lime)


Soak the pancit noodles in cool water overnight to soften. The next day, cook soaked noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes until al dente, then drain and set aside.

Chicaharon Mix
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soften, 4-5 min. Then add crushed chicharon and tinapa, mixing together throughly with garlic and onion for 3 min then set-aside.

1. Heat sauce pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp oil. Add in shrimp heads and cook until pink, 3-5 minutes, then set-aside
2. Heat large pot over medium heat and add 1 tbsp oil. Gently add onion, garlic, carrots and celery, cook until soften, 5-7 min. Add cooked shrimp heads, slightly crushing them into veggie mix to unleash more flavour.
3. Add water and simmer for 20 min. Then add soy sauce and atsuete powder, mix thoroughly and let simmer for another 10-15 min.
4. Strain palabok stock, composting solids, and add back over medium heat. Whisk in cornstarch slurry and let simmer for another 2-3 min, until sauce starts to thicken then set-aside.
5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in frying pan and cook shrimp, 3-4 min. Season with salt and pepper then set-aside.
6. Then add minced pork to the same pan and cook thoroughly, 6-8 min. Season with salt and pepper then set-aside.

Pancit Palabok Assembly
In a large pot over low heat, placing 1 cup of palabok sauce then gently stir in the cooked rice noodles and sliced cabbage. Stir in 2 cups chicharon mix and half of the cooked shrimp and pork.
Transfer to a large serving plate and sprinkle remaining chicharon crumbs and top with more palabok sauce, shrimp, pork, eggs, green onions and calamansi. Masarup!!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

FOODIEO: Candice visits the Philippines!

Here's a FOODIEO visiting our family home in Quezon City, Philippines! It's more fun in the Philippines;)

Stay tuned for more Candice's Cusina FOODIEOS from the Philippines!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Taste of Philippines - Nena's Restaurant

It has been almost 18 years since my last trip back to the Philippines and I finally made the trip back last December with my boyfriend.  Memories with mixed emotions immediately flooded back when my Aunt picked us up from the airport and we sat idle in the dense Manila traffic for over 2 hours on a weekday morning on our way back to our family's home in Quezon City, a region in bustling Metro Manila. This trip, without traffic, should only take 20 minutes.

Regardless, I was in awe watching the colourful city go by as the cab driver expertly maneuvered his way through throngs of every type of vehicle you can imagine plus tricycles carrying passengers beyond capacity, pimped-up jeepneys (a unique Filipino public transportation), and vendors on foot dangerously weaving through traffic trying to sell snacks to anyone who catches their eye.

With the electric scenery, constant honking, smog and stop and go movement of the car, this could either send you into a frenzy or pump you up for the rest of your Filipino journey. We were pumped!

After we arrived to Cubao, Quezon City,  my Aunt brought us to Nena's restaurant and they make the best bibingka. It's one of my favourite Filipino desserts, a soft rice cake cooked in a banana leaf and topped with salted egg, cheese and freshly grated coconut, yum!!!

We also couldn't resist having merienda, a light snack, and tasting other items on their menu. The pancit palabok noodle dish sauce was seasoned perfectly and liked the grilled calamari with the twist of sweet citrusy calamansi.

Pinakbet was a bowl of veggie stew comfort food, okra in any dish is a winner with me.

The surprising star was the lechon kawali, a main dish that you can eat with rice, was presented simply on a banana leaf but the taste of crunching the pork's crispy skin with the tender flesh was amplified with the tastiest sweet and sour dipping sauce!

This is just day one of our trip and can't wait to share more delicious Filipino adventures in the coming blog posts.

Nena's restaurant, masarup!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015