Seafood · Uncategorized

The Duo’s Ethnic Exploration: Filipino

Lauriat Soy Sauce & Paufina Pastis-The Duo Dishes

With the holidays in full swing, this month’s Ethnic Exploration was hard to squeeze in. We have to stay true to schedule though, so here is the 2010 finale. Food can take you places, and this time, we’ve gone to the Philippines. We have made a couple of very traditional Filipino dishes before (adobo and lumpia), so maybe we are not brand new to the cuisine, but there is a lot of good Filipino food out there. We just barely skimmed the surface. A trip to a local market, and we were armed with a few must-haves to create another meal. It was easy, and it was good. And we can’t wait to share it with you.

Excellent Rice Stick-The Duo Dishes

Each and every month, we are more and more convinced that Los Angeles is a true melting pot. We stumble across new and diverse neighborhoods every day. Usually they are right next to each, separated only by a street. Of course this is not to say that these are the only places people of like background tend to live, though Los Angeles does tend to be somewhat segregated in ways. The southern part of Echo Park, a section of town east of Hollywood, has been named Historic Filipinotown as it was one of the first areas that Filipino people began to buy homes and start business in the early 20th century. Today, there are rough estimates that only 10,000 of the 400,000 Filipino residents of Los Angeles live in Filipinotown. The ethnic makeup of the area has changed over the years, but the name still remains, complete with signage along Highway 101. Interestingly enough, Filipinotown is not where we ventured for goods this time. Instead, Glendale was the place.

Pancit Shrimp-The Duo DishesPancit Onions & Garlic-The Duo Dishes

Glendale is actually very well known for its strong Armenian and Iranian communities, but somewhere in there lies a Filipino gem–Arko Foods International. Arko is a treasure trove of prime ingredients for anyone looking to do a bit of cooking. Stocked to the brim, if you need a hard to find ingredient, it is most likely there. The produce section was very small, but there were great items–peeled and fresh taro, banana blossoms, chili leaves, yam leaves. Walk over to the frozen food section, and you’d find horseradish leaves, jackfruit, pandan leaves, jute leaves, and various meats such as chicken and pork longanisa and pork tocino. Even specialty items like beef blood and papit seasoning. The fresh meat and fish section dominated the back wall, and customers waited patiently in line for their picks. The middle aisles were packed with imported and local dry goods such as chicharon, sweet sugar palm, canned squid, sardines in coconut milk, mangosteen in syrup, spiced coconut vinegar, pastis, pan de sal and pan de leche and hopia baboy. The cold, prepared food aisle offered delicacies such as buko pandan, chicken and pork embotidos, rellenong bangu, ube cakes and halo halo. You could even score Filipino beers from Red Horse and San Miguel. Finally, the hot prepared food counter–also known as turo turo for “point point–lined the front corner of the store with a dozen people swarming around the glass. They eagerly relayed their orders to the employees behind the counters who piled steaming scoops of food into plastic containers.

Pancit Shrimp-The Duo DishesPancit-Cabbage & Carrots-The Duo Dishes

The plan was to make pancit bihon–a noodle dish usually with shrimp, chicken, beef or pork. There were only a few items we needed, and they were the rice stick noodles, dark soy sauce, fish sauce and a bag of chicharron. A couple of containers of food would make for a nice snack before the actual meal. The line was long, but the wait only took about 10 minutes. (If you head to Arko, make sure you grab a few of the plaintain lumpia. They make for the perfect dessert!) Unfortunately, the store’s management would not allow us to take photographs in the store, so here’s hoping the descriptions will suffice. This is a first time that management has denied us the ability to take pictures, so we apologize for not being able to show you everything that took place. Visit the store to see it all for yourself and, of course, pick up a few items.

Pancit Shrimp & Cabbage-The Duo DishesExcellent Rice Stick Wok 1-The Duo Dishes

Back in the kitchen, the making of the dish was easier than expected. This is basically a one wok meal. Having never made pancit before, it seemed like a good idea to defer to people with more expertise. The recipes for pancit all seemed pretty easy, which is very encouraging for the next time around. Our version does not include chicken or a homemade chicken broth. Instead, it is all shrimp, and the shells have been left on the shrimp to add a bit more flavor. In terms of the other chosen ingredients, we followed heed and purchased Lauriat brand dark soy sauce and fish sauce called pastis. Both are Filipino varities, and when you’re cooking in a particular arena, it’s nice to use the products of the region or cuisine. Fish sauce remains the one ingredient that can easily turn up the American nose due to its aroma, which can range from very pungent to only slightly pungent. It is an indispensable ingredient for many Southeast Asian, Korean and Japanese foods though, so if you want to maintain an authentic flavor, grab a fish sauce that suits you.

Excellent Rice Stick Wok 2-The Duo DishesChicharron-The Duo Dishes

The other specific purchase made was Excellent brand rice sticks. At most Asian markets, rice stick noodles are easy to come by. There are a million brands, and of course, there are varying textures and sizes for each one. Excellent is a highly recommended Filipino brand that also toots its own horn. On the package, you’ll see the words ‘Once tasted, ever wanted’. If that’s not reason enough to buy them, what is? Finally, the chicharron. There was no real reason to buy these guys except to add a little crunchy garnish to the dish. You may have noticed the coconut vinegar. It has no purpose in this dish at all, but it looked like a fun find for less than $2. If that’s not reason enough to buy it, what is?

Pancit Bihon-The Duo Dishes
Pancit Bihon – Serves 4 to 6 (adapted from
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned and shell on
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
8 ounces rice sticks
32 ounces chicken broth
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup sliced green onion
Vegetable oil
Lemon slices
Chicharron, crushed

1. Heat a swirl of vegetable oil in a wok. Once hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions have softened, approximately 5-7 minutes. Stir often to keep the garlic from burning.

2. Add the shrimp and toss to coat them in the garlic and onions. Once pink, slide everything onto a separate plate and set aside.

3. If necessary, add a tiny bit more oil to the work and then toss in the cabbage and carrots. Cook until the cabbage wilts and the carrots soften, approximately 3-5 minutes. Scrape onto the late with the shrimp and onions.

4. Pour the chicken broth into the work and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the rice stick noodles, soy sauce and fish sauce. Reduce to a simmer and cook until most of the water has evaporated and the noodles are dark brown in color, approximately 25 minutes.

5. Slide the shrimp and vegetables back into the work and toss everything together to mix well. Sprinkle the green onions on top and serve. Garnish each plate with lemon slices and chicharron.

Click HERE for the printable recipe.

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22 thoughts on “The Duo’s Ethnic Exploration: Filipino

  1. Pancit is a common delicacy in the Philippines. In fact, a birthday celebration won’t be complete without this. What I prefer though is tanghon, the noodles are made from soy bean, notably known for its low caloric count.

  2. yumyumyum! i just drooled at my desk a little bit :

    my favorite is pancit palabok, which is sort of like pancit bihon w/the chicharrons and shrimpy sauce, but the sauce is a little thicker (think gravy) and (at least this is how my mom does it) thicker noodles *drool* so not good for you, but SOOOO delicious! another yummy noodle dish – sotanghon. LOVE!

  3. I love pancit! Virginia Beach is the East coast destination for Filipinos because of the large naval base. Excellent recipe! It’s very fresh.

  4. I’ve never had Filipino adobo but I hear it’s good. Of course I use our version in a lot of our food, but I’m curious… the dish looks good, but I’ll skip the shrimp, pls.

  5. I love going to markets where I can discover things I’m not familiar with – it’s one of my very favorite things. And, I have just discovered an authentic Filipino restaurant in Baltimore … I haven’t eaten there yet, I’ve just been reading about it and it’s on my imminent eating schedule, so this post was well timed indeed!! Exciting!

  6. Hi guys, long time no see! I see that you’ve been busy and this Filipino dish looks amazing. I really miss Asian food back in the States, so I will start inviting friends over for “true” Asian dishes down here in Mexico.

    Have a wonderful New Year!

  7. Great job!!! Try adding some fish balls next time, too. 🙂

    There’s one other Filipino market you should check out. It’s called Seafood City in the Eagle Rock Plaza on Colorado Blvd. It’s literally like a mile or two from Arko and a larger supermarket-like place, they have a variety of Philippine brands ingredients and products here and cheap meats and fish. I like to go there when I don’t want to venture into the small space of Arko. Can’t wait to see what other dishes you guys try.

    Hope you two had a great Christmas!!!!

  8. Sigh, I miss living across the street from two generations of Filipinos. The birthday celebrations were a feast and we were always invited. It does make me sad to realize that their children (my older son’s friends) are so “Americanized” now that they won’t carry on the traditions.

    I will have to try this one “stir fire” style on my grill!

  9. I really need to try harder to discover the little cultural niches within New York…I’m sure they are aplenty! This Philippino dish sounds delicious! Then again, I’m always up for a new Asian-inspired pasta dish!

  10. Yum. Nice job guys. I always adore your ethic explorations. This one looks especially fabulous. Even though Chicago is not as much of a melting pot it makes me think I need to get out to more of my ethnic markets. And as for the fish sauce, those who have never tried it don’t know what they are missing!

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