One of my close friends had a baby shower-slash-potluck over the weekend. I initially planned on buying a tray of sandwiches or a couple of large pizzas for the party but my other friend coordinating the get-together insisted that I prepare a homemade dish, even going as far as delegating Pancit malabon as my dish to bring.
Pancit Malabon is a popular fiesta fare which originated from Malabon city (hence the name) and its ingredients reflect the abundant coastal harvests of the area. The orange-hued sauce of this noodle dish draws flavor and color from shrimp juice and crab fat. The toppings may include crushed pork cracklings, chopped napa cabbage, flaked tinapa and a rich array of seafood such as shrimp, oysters, squid, clams and mussels. As you can see, I kept it simple and used only shrimp but feel free to add other shellfish as preferred.
- 1 16 ounces thick rice or cornstarch noodle sticks
- calamansi or lemon cut into wedges
For the Toppings
- 2 cups napa cabbage shredded
- 1/2 pound pork belly diced
- 1/2 pound large shrimp head on
- 1 cup tinapa flakes
- 1 cup pork cracklings chicharon, crushed
- fried garlic bits
- 4 hardboiled eggs peeled and quartered
- 1/4 cup green onions chopped
For the Sauce
- 5 cups shrimp stock
- 1 tablespoon annatto powder
- 2 tablespoons shrimp base powder
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons crab fat
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a deep dish, soak rice noodles in water for about 10 minutes or until softened. Drain well. In a pot over medium heat, bring about 6 cups water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until cooked but firm to bite. Drain well and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine noodles, cabbage, sauce, chicharon and tinapa flakes. Gently toss and then transfer to serving plate. Top with hard boiled eggs, shrimp, pork, toasted garlic bits and green onions. Serve with calamansi wedges.
For the Toppings
- In a small pot over medium heat, bring about 2 cups water to a boil. Add cabbage and cook for about 30 to 35 seconds or until tender yet crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove from pot and submerge into a bowl of iced water. Drain well and set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat, add pork belly and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
- Peel shrimp, leaving tail intact. Reserve shrimp heads. In a pot over medium heat, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until color changes. With a slotted spoon, remove shrimp from pot and set aside. Reserve liquid.
- In a pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add tinapa flakes and cook, stirring regularly, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned and heated through. Remove from pan and set aside.
For the Sauce
- With a knife, coarsely chop reserved shrimp heads. In a pot over medium heat, combine shrimp heads and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to top. Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to extract flavor. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain liquid and discard shrimp solids.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the shrimp stock and annatto powder. Stir well until annatto powder is dissolved and water has changed to orange color.
- In a large sauce pot over medium heat, combine shrimp stock (about 4 cups from the shrimp heads and about 1 cup reserved from boiling shrimps), fish sauce and annatto water. Add shrimp base and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Stir until smooth. Whisking vigorously, slowly add cornstarch mixture to shrimp stock and continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add crab fat and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.