You twist your fork, gathering a bundle of noodles smothered in a thick orange sauce, and you think, "Man, I love palabok." Everyone does. The rich seafood-y sauce, the medley of toppings, the plump pancit—it's simply made for maximum enjoyment.
But pancit palabok takes a lot of work to put together, which is probably why no one ever makes it at home. Everyone just buys them by the bilao from what they swear is the best palabok in town.
Our best palabok recipe doesn't disprove that. It still takes two hours to make, and we even encourage you to make shrimp broth from scratch. But the tradeoff here is that all that works results in a rich and flavorful—yet well-balanced and not overwhelming—dish that'll make you ask someone to slap you just to believe you're not dreaming.
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 ½ tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- pepper, to taste
- 250g pork belly, liempo cut
- 500–600g shrimp
- 2–3 tbsp oil
- shrimp shells and heads
- 1 pack (50g) hibe (dried shrimp)
- 2–3 ginger slices
- 2–3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 4 cups water
- 3 tbsp oil
- ⅓ cup white onion, minced
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp hibe (dried shrimp), finely minced
- ⅓ cup tinapa (smoked fish), cooked
- 2 tbsp aligue (crab fat paste)
- 2–3 tbsp cornstarch
- 4 tbsp water
- fish sauce, to taste
- 1 tsp atsuete powder, dissolved in 2 tsp water
- 375g cooked palabok rice noodles
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
- chicharon, crushed
- spring onions, sliced thinly
- calamansi, halved
Marinate pork belly: Combine fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and pepper in a bowl. Add pork belly and let marinate for 30 mins to 1 hour.
Cook pork belly: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roast pork belly for 15 minutes until charred. You can also air fry or grill it. Transfer cooked pork belly to a chopping board and slice into thin strips. Set aside.
Prepare shrimp: While the pork cooks, deshell and devein shrimp. Keep the heads and shells for the shrimp broth.
Cook shrimp: Season shrimp with salt. Heat oil in a pan over high heat. Add shrimp and cook until opaque and heated through, 2 minutes. Set aside.
Make Palabok Sauce
Make shrimp broth: Add oil to a saucepot over high heat. Add shrimp shells and heads and cook until pink. Add hibe, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and browned. Add water to deglaze the pan. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth. Strain the mixture using a cheesecloth or fine strainer into a bowl. Set aside.
Make palabok sauce: Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic. Add hibe, tinapa, and crab fat. Stir and cook for 1–2 minutes. Add 2–3 ladles of reserved shrimp broth.
Thicken and season: Whisk together cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Add slurry to the sauce and cook until thickened, adjusting consistency if needed. Season sauce with patis and add atsuete powder. Stir until color is evenly distributed. Keep warm.
Assemble the Palabok
Assemble and serve: Place cooked noodles in a large serving platter or plate. Top the noodles with palabok sauce, pork belly, shrimp, boiled eggs, crushed chicharon, and spring onions. Serve with calamansi halves on the side.