Pansit palabok is one of my favorite Philippine dishes, and I've missed eating it since I moved to Spain. I loved eating it back home, wherever I found it. Whether it was in Jollibee (without the pork or chicharon), a little stall in a "palengke", a takeout "bilao" bought for someone's birthday, or in a Filipino fusion restaurant, I always enjoyed this plate of noodles. The orange sauce, the shrimp, the hardboiled eggs, the "tinapa" flakes, all of these were a mix of flavors that were simply glorious to my palate. This pescetarian version to me was no less tasty than the one that had meat.
During the quarantine, much like a lot of other people, I had more time to cook and try preparing new dishes. And the opportunity finally presented itself for me to try cooking palabok for the first time. When Madrid entered Phase 0, we were allowed to go out for exercise for a few hours each day. I took advantage of this window to finally get out of the house, and during one of these walks I came across an Asian store with a window display of ready to cook pansit palabok. I went inside and bought some, as the cashier said it would be easy to make since it was already a set of noodles plus sauce.
I was unfamiliar with the brand that I had purchased, but I figured it would be hard to go wrong with a prepared mix. I boiled the noodles (which were a little thicker that I would've wanted) and prepared the sauce (which was not as orange as I was used to) with some trepidation as it didn't seem to taste authentic at the start of the cooking process. I fried some tofu and cooked some shrimp in garlic instead of making garlic chips to put as a topping. Some boiled eggs, spring onions and fried crispy onions topped off my creation. I used lemon instead of calamansi to balance the saltiness.
It turned out pretty well despite my fears. I seasoned the sauce a little bit with whatever I had at hand while cooking and in the end it tasted a lot like the palabok that I've long loved. The sauce is not very much seen in the photo because it sank into the little pit in the middle of the noodles that I made so it wouldn't spread out too much.
It was such a delight to eat the noodles not just because I missed it so much, but also because I'd never thought I could make it by myself, even with a mix. I don't know why I was always intimidated by the thought of making palabok. At any rate, I now feel more confident in my abilities to replicate some of my favorite Filipino dishes even in a city where the ingredients I would need are not that easy to come by.