Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Flippin' For Filipino Palabok...

You know when you taste something that completely knocks your socks off, and you don't know why you didn't respond this way the other times you had it?... could it be that the chef at this place prepared it better, was there a secret agreeable ingredient or the dish just connected with you this time, but whatever it is, you are super happy for it! Cause it just expanded yet another territory in your cooking and eating repertoire. An impact so strong, you just have to pull your sources together to replicate it for your family and friends so they can experience the wonders you did (plus I was dreaming about it all weekend when other moms swooned over flowers and their kids' mother's day crafts)... And for me, it's expanding my knowledge of nuances in different cuisines and further spreads that love of learning and teaching in what I do-- at home and in my culinary profession.

Today I am talking about Filipino palabok-- noodles smothered in shrimp gravy topped with cooked shrimp, pork, boiled eggs, crushed chicharon fried pork rind, fish flakes, green onions, and fried garlic.  I've had it before but it really hit home the other day, a take-out box from a casual eatery for lunch-- hearty, noodles soft and slightly sticky, saucy and flavours seafoody and comfy under a bevy of textural chicharon, onions, and garlic. As I am exploring, there are so many versions and presentation-- thin or thick clear noodles, noodles cooked in the sauce, or ladled over top like gravy, ground pork in the sauce, or cooked pork pieces and served on top, sliced eggs or wedged eggs, fish flakes sprinkled or not, addition of other seafoods... and the list goes on...

I like to do things from scratch as much as possible, but I read the merits of Mama Sita's palabok seasoning mix-- shrimp based and flavourings to make the instant sauce, and thought I'd give it a go. I cooked the shrimp shells, and used that broth for more flavour on flavour. And the resulting dish was so-O deelish, and definitely a keeper for another home meal or potluck event. So presentable, appetizing and hearty, and economical too! Some things I may do different next time (like make the noodles more passed al dente, my own shrimp gravy, add fish flakes and cook cubed pork belly in soy and vinegar), but as a first attempt which my kids can attest to... like WoW!

Such a big hearty platter, to serve a small army!

Filipino Pancit Palabok
Serves 8 to 10 as a meal (reduce ingredients in half to serve 4 to 6)

1 pack (454 g) thin or thick rice noodles (I used Super Q brand's thick cornstarch noodles), cook according to package instructions
2 Tbsp. cooking oil

3 garlic cloves, minced
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
1 lb. shell-on shrimps, peeled, shells reserved for broth (if includes heads, even better for broth-making)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 lb. lean ground pork
2 pkgs. (57 g) Mama Sita's Palabok seasoning mix, cook according to package instructions 
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. annatto seeds, sizzled in 3 Tbsp. hot oil

Topping ingredients:
chicharon (fried pork rind), crushed to small bits
green onion or scallions, finely chopped
fried garlic
wedges of lemon, lime or the authentic accompaniment sour calamansi

I love this spread of ingredients- so much flavour and textures!

Cornstarch sticks!! The first I've worked with, in my lifetime of much noodle-cooking... soak first and cook after and drain according to package instructions. 

Clear and springy...

Don't waste those flavourful shells-- too bad I didn't have shrimp heads which would have added much more flavour to the broth. Cook for about 10 minutes on medium boil and strain shells for a clear broth.

Crush those tasty chicharon fried pork rinds (comes in so many flavours- I picked up garlic and spicy with vinegar). You can make your own fried garlic by sauteing chopped garlic in some oil or buy a container.

Pat dry those shrimps after shelling, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute in a little oil over medium-high heat until orange and opaque, which indicates they have been cooked through. Set aside.

Follow instructions on the seasoning package, which is basically dissolving the mix in your choice of liquid-- mine would be the shrimp broth. Need about 2-1/2 cups of water for one package. I used two.

Heat your wok/skillet over medium-high heat with oil. Saute onions and garlic for about two minutes and add the pork. Cook, stirring occasionally until pork is 80% done, around three minutes.

Look at the lay of ingredients that is ready for topping and serving on palabok!

Add the sauce mix and ground black pepper into the skillet and cook for a few minutes, until boiling and thickened like gravy.

Since I used the Mama Sita seasoning, I didn't have to make the additional annatto oil for the red colouring, but I did it anyway, cooking 1 Tbsp. annatto seeds sizzled in 3 Tbsp. oil for a minute (no longer otherwise, the oil will be bitter). After adding the noodles into the gravy and coated thoroughly, I drizzled the red oil on top for a slick sheen.

Nummy! Now onto a huge serving vessel...

Getting ready for the bevy of colourful and crunchy toppings!

Wahhhh.... Voila!!!

I so want to call this Palabok Paella, especially in this ceramic Portuguese dish.

You can also serve the shrimp sauce ladled over top like gravy for a colour contrast against the white noodles. Pretty and tasty either way!

Photo Credit:

I happened to buy a bunch of cool schmool coolers at the wine and beer store. Blood Orange Mango one night...

And Pineapple Lemon the next with even tastier leftovers.... with a nose of smoky bacon.

In love with the flavours right boys? Mama' will indeed make this again...

Hair here, and hair gone the next... lol!

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