Pancit is the term for noodles in Filipino cuisine. There are several types of noodles used to make Filipino dishes. In our house, when my mom said she was going to make “Pancit,” it usual meant she was going to make her traditional way of making pancit — with three different types of noodles — bihon, canton and sotanghon. If she were going to make any other type of pancit, she would say she was making “luglug,” “Miki,” or one of her specialities — “Palabok.” Pancit Palabok is flavoured with a shrimp gravy thickened with flour and poured over rice noodles. What I love most about this dish are the toppings. It is usually a matter of personal choice, but the most common toppings include shrimp, fried tofu, hard-boiled eggs, smoked fish, fried minced garlic, minced green onions and crushed pork crakcling (chicharon).

1 pack (1 lb.) palabok rice noodles or bihon
1 tablespoon anatto powder
3 cups chicken broth or water
2 pieces shrimp flavoring cube
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup cooked shrimps (boiled or steamed)
2 pieces fried firm tofu (tokwa), cubed
½ cup tinapa flakes (smoked fish)
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1/4 cup green onion or scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fried garlic
1/2 cup chicharon (crushed or grounded)

Soak the rice noodles in water for about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. To make the sauce, dilute the annato powder in broth, then pour the mixture in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add the shrimp cubes and stir and simmer until hot. Whisk in flour gradually. Add the fish sauce and ground black pepper then simmer until sauce becomes thick. Set aside. Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot. Place the soaked noodles in a strainer then submerge the strainer in the boiling water for about a minute or until the noodles are cooked. Make sure that the noodles are still firm. Remove the strainer from the pot and drain the liquid from the noodles. Place the noodles in the serving dish. Pour the sauce on top of the noodles then arrange the toppings over the sauce.