Of the noodle dishes popular in the Philippines, the "pancit" most associated with seafood is pancit Malabon, named after the coastal city Malabon. It features a blend of fish and pork toppings, as well as a hearty sauce flavored with fish stock, pork and vegetables. These substantial ingredients need a thick noodle on which to rest. Use chewy, thick rice noodles to make an authentic pancit Malabon.
Pancit Malabon recipes call for thick Asian rice noodles, about the size of spaghetti noodles. An Asian market may even have varieties packaged as "pancit Malabon" noodles. In general, any thick rice noodle -- which the package might call medium rice sticks -- will work for pancit Malabon. Laksa noodles, a rice noodle popular in Malaysia and Indonesia, is also the right texture and thickness for pancit Malabon.
What to Pass Up
For the sake of authenticity, avoid bihon, the thin rice vermicelli that looks like Italian angel hair pasta. This type is usually reserved for pancit Palabok, another popular Filipino noodle dish. (If you simply prefer thinner noodles, however, bihon is fine). Other Asian rice noodles unsuitable for pancit Malabon include wide rice varieties such as fen noodles, similar in appearance to Italian fettuccine. The texture will also be altered if you turn to Asian noodles made from ingredients such as cornstarch, buckwheat, sweet potato, wheat, seaweed or soy.
Before you begin making pancit Malabon, you need to soften the rice noodles. Consult your package to see if it has suggested soaking times -- thicker noodles take longer than thin, vermicelli rice noodles. In general, prepare the rice noodles for cooking by covering 1 pound of rice noodles with hot water and leaving them to soak for about 5 to 10 minutes. If they have softened after that period, drain them and proceed to the recipe. Otherwise, let them continue soaking.
Putting it All Together
Set the softened noodles to the side while preparing the sauce. Malabon sauce involves sauteing onions, garlic and cubed pork, adding fish sauce, canned shrimp bisque or fish stock, and water that has been colored with red annatto seeds, and pork rinds. The noodles are then combined with the Malabon sauce. After the sauced noodles are laid out on a platter, toppings such as fish flakes, pork rinds, squid in red sauce, cooked shrimp, oysters, bean sprouts, blanched white cabbage and hard-boiled eggs go over the noodles, and the pancit Malabon is ready for serving.
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Ellen Douglas has written on food, gardening, education and the arts since 1992. Douglas has worked as a staff reporter for the Lakeville Journal newspaper group. Previously, she served as a communication specialist in the nonprofit field. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Connecticut.