photo credit (c) 2017 by Tristan Sullivan
Pancit palabok (or pancit malabon) is a Filipino-style noodle dish that is very similar to spaghetti – noodles are covered in a custard-like sauce and topped with various toppings – meat (shrimp and chicken are the most popular), smoke mackarel, fried tofu, eggs, scallions, fried garlic and pork/chicken cracklings or chicarones. It’s a wonderful dish that is very savory and rich and full of flavor – and it’s one of my absolute favorite Filipino dishes in the whole wide world.
When I was growing up, pancit palabok was only served during special occasions at my house. The preparations for creating this dish was very labor-intensive because it was so “layered” – each ingredient had to be prepared individually (the noodles, sauce, and the various 7-8 toppings) before serving. Typically, it would be my mom (who would be in charge of the rice noodles and some of the garnish), my aunt (who was in charge of making the sauce), and me (who would mince the rest of the garnish into tiny, crumbled pieces) who would work in the kitchen to prepare this dish. We would labor in the kitchen for at least 3-4 hours to prepare this meal – and often, we would make a lot, since it would be another 6 months or so before we would prepare this again. I would often request this dish for my birthday – and oh, did I love my mom’s pancit palabok with my aunt’s special sauce that she would make from scratch…
The worst pancit palabok I’ve ever had actually had imitation crab in it – it tasted rubbery and fishy at the same time – not only that, the cook would use 2 large bags of pork chicharones as part of the garnish – and it was an overly-salted mess. Surprisingly enough, people actually loved her pancit palabok (which made me believe that some people’s taste in food are so strange…since that was really disgusting).
Ever since I’ve started eating in 40/30/30, I’ve always wanted to see if I could make this dish fit into 2 criteria – 1) to have a maximum of 400 calories per serving, and 2) to make this in 40/30/30. Sadly enough, there are a few nutritional areas that need to be improved – 1) the cholesterol is still too high in this dish (180mg)…ick; and 2) the sodium is still too high (1280mg). I know that it’s due to the pork cracklings and the shrimp, since they are both very high in fat and sodium – my original plan was to create my own chicken cracklings and air-fry them, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any chicken skin at the supermarket, so I had to find a shortcut. Even though the dish is still somewhat unhealthy in some respects, at least it’s more healthy than its usual counterpart…
So enjoy a very special-occasion Filipino dish – pancit palabok – from my house to yours…mabuhay!
(makes 11 servings)
For the sauce:
2 packets Mama Sita’s Pancit Palabok Sauce mix (can be found at your local Asian market)
1 block soft tofu
4 cups water
For the meat saute:
8 oz. ground turkey breast
16 oz. 93/7 ground turkey
16 oz. raw or frozen shrimp
4 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. fish sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
For the garnishes:
5 large hard-boiled eggs, diced
2 cups spring onions, diced
2 ounces fried garlic
2 oz. pork rinds, crushed
16 ounces Filipino-style rice noodles (bihon) (can be found at your local Asian market)
- In a large-sized stock pot, mix sauce packets and water as directed on packet.
- Add tofu into sauce and mash tofu until tofu has broken into small pieces and well-incorporated. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, add canola oil and ground turkey. Break up turkey into small bits and saute until brown. Then add shrimp, fish sauce and pepper and saute until shrimp as fully cooked (about 3-4 minutes) and all juices have evaporated. Add to sauce in the stock pot.
- Reheat sauce & meat in stock pot under medium-low heat.
- In a large bowl, soak rice noodles as directed in packet. Once noodles have softened (8-10 minutes), remove noodles from the bowl and add to the stock pot with the sauce and meat. Mix thoroughly for 4-5 minutes until the sauce has been absorbed by the noodles and there is a minimal amount of sauce left.
- To serve: sprinkle with hard boiled eggs, fried garlic, green onion slices, and crushed pork rinds.