One of the Filipino dishes that I “outsourced” for my housewarming was pancit palabok (rice noodles with toppings and sauce). My guests and I kept raving about it that I had to have it again. As I devoured it I was imagining how it was prepared, just like the details found in most of the online recipes and cookbooks. But I had a hard time matching it because it looked so simple – without the shrimps, squid, and other toppings, but more delicious than those I’ve tasted in the past. (Just like a halo halo with so many ingredients versus the unassuming and plain looking but yummier Razon’s.) Until I found myself asking Ate (the person who cooked it who is from Pampanga) how to prepare it. Instead of sharing the recipe right away, I had to observe the preparation twice and prepare it with her eventually. Think of practical tests.
For those who would like to try it, you will need:
500 g thick rice noodles
water for soaking noodles
2 cloves of garlic
10 g spring onion
50 g pork crackling (chicharon)
1/2 cup annatto (achuete) oil
200 g lean ground pork
1 cup water
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 and half tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp white pepper
1. Soak the rice noodles for 3 to 4 hours. It can be less than that depending on the type of the thick rice noodles. (Thin rice noodles or bihon is an alternate. This does not need to be soaked and can be directly boiled until it gets tender.) As soak is in progress, crush, peel and mince the garlic. Set aside 4 tbsp of the annatto oil for the toppings.
2. In a pot, heat annatto oil and saute garlic and half of the onion for 1 minute. Add flour to the sauteed mixture and whisk continuously (better if you can have a substitute in whisking). Set aside.
3. Boil noodles for 2 to 3 minutes and drain.
4. For the toppings, hard boil the eggs. When done, peel and slice into wedges and set aside.
5. To make the pork topping, mix pepper, soy sauce and ground pork in a bowl. In a pot, heat annatto oil, saute garlic and onion. Add the pork mixture and cook until tender.
6. In a pre-heated pan, fry the remaining chopped garlic to make toasted garlic. Set aside.
7. Roast wrapped flaked smoked fish (tinapa) on the stove or grind the pork crackling (chicharon) as we did.
8. Place cook noodles on a plate then pour sauce over the noodles. Since I love palatable presentations, I prefer using a tray. Arrange the toppings: pork meat, chicharon, spring onions, toasted garlic and egg.
9. Serve with a slice lemon or calamansi.
Whew, I didn’t realize it really entails long preparation. But it was really worth it (sulit)!