Pancit is one of those pinoy foods that can be eaten almost any time of the day, like rice. And for many pinoys I know, it is eaten WITH rice, as ulam (viand). At home we love pancit—be it canton, bihon or miki. The queen of them all I think is pancit palabok, which I called luglug when I was a child.
Its sauce is richly flavoured with shrimp, colored with the deep orange hue of achuete (annatto), topped with fried tokwa cubes (tofu), shrimp meat, tinapa (smoked) flakes, chicharon (pork rinds) and finally crowned with hard-boiled egg slices and chopped green onions.
It does take some extra steps compared to everyday pancit fare, but not at all intimidating. What I have learned is that it is easy enough to make pansit luglog BUT preparation is key. The secret is, you prep the day before.
Particularly for Christmas, this extra-special noodle deserves an honoured in our family reunion feast.
2-2 ½ cups shrimp juice* (from the heads of shelled shrimps)
3 T oil
½ c achuete water, also known as annatto
2 segments garlic, minced
½ c cornstarch
2 -3 T patis or fish sauce to taste
1/2 k bihon, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes and drained
2 quarts boiling water including stock (from precooking pork, seasoned with salt and pepper)
1/2 – 3/4 c finely flaked tinapa, with spines off (about 6 pcs tinapang galunggong)
1 /2 head garlic, minced
½ c kintsay , coarsely chopped (also known as Chinese cilantro)
2-3 hardboiled eggs, sliced
1/2- 3/4 powdered crisp crackling or chicharon (About a 100 to 150 gm pack)
¼ k shrimps, shelled
1/3 c cooking oil (may be plain or colored with atsuwete as well)
¼ k pork, boiled and sliced into small cubes
3 pcs tokwa (firm tofu squares), cut into small cubes
½ c to 1 c water
Salt and pepper to taste
Patis and seasoning
1/2 cup finely sliced green onions
12 kalamansi, halved with the seeds removed
For the sauce
Coax the color from the achuete by soaking it in water and crushing with your hands. Drain and set aside. In medium heat, sauté minced garlic in oil, add the shrimp juice and achuete water. Set aside ½ c of the liquid to dissolve the cornstarch. Slowly pour the slurry into the boiling mixture and stir till thick and saucy. Should it be too thick, slowly incorporate with about ¼ c water or shrimp juice. I prefer to use a whisk as it guarantees a smooth finish all the time. Set aside. *Cook’s Tip for shrimp juice extraction: For a more flavorful and fragrant shrimp juice, remove the spiny head, leaving the soft, orangy ones. In a non-stick pan, put about 1 T oil, and stir fry the head to release the aroma. Add 2 ½ cups water, pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Let it cool a bit and give it a whir in the blender. Strain and press to get all that shrimp goodness.
Preparing the noodles
Cook soaked noodles in broth and drain well.
For the topping: Deep fry tokwa (firm tofu) and set aside. Then in medium heat, cook garlic in oil until golden in color. Drain and set aside. Add the pork to the oil and stir fry for about 7- 10 minutes. Add shrimps and cook till pink/orange. Toss in the tokwa, then add ½ water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the kintsay, salt and pepper to taste. Set this pork and shrimp mixture aside.
Place noodles on a platter, pour sauce over it, top with the shrimp and pork mixture. Sprinkle with tinapa flakes, crushed chicharon, crown with hardboiled egg slices and sprinkle with chopped green onions. Serve with a generous side of tinapa flakes and more chicharon; kalamansi halves and patis.
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