There are a number of things that makes a person Filipino. Our ethics, attitude and, most importantly, our food sets up apart from the rest of the world, giving us a solid identity of who we are as a community. To the untrained eye the Filipino community might seem like such a catastrophe—a mix of cultures in constant disarray, different qualities constantly clashing with each other. To the rest of us, though, such is not the case.
To those of us who actually lived and breathed Filipino culture from our childhood, we know that this melting pot of cultures we call home forms such a well organized mess, resulting in something completely amazing. This reflects in the many aspects of our daily lives, in the way we learn how to associate ourselves with different types of people and, of course, in our cuisine.
We think pancit is a great metaphor for the complexity of our cultures, so here are some varieties very familiar to us, which we just can’t help but crave over and over again.
Standing over the fine line between being a soup or pancit, the absence of actual noodles in this dish makes it one of the most unique dishes in this category. A savory treat made of dumplings in chicken broth, it is just as Filipino as the rest of the pack.
Resourcefulness and efficiency are just a few of the qualities that keep the modern Filipino household up and running. We aren’t afraid to experiment with the things that we have in hand, knowing that we just need a little bit of that Filipino culinary know-how to dish out restaurant quality meals that’ll leave everyone asking for more.
Instant Pancit Canton
Being cheap and easy to prepare, this merienda treat is arguably one of the most popular in its category. It is not to be taken lightly, though. Packing a punch with its huge selection of flavors and makes, as well as its availability wherever you are, this modern take on the traditional Pancit Canton has turned into a favorite for Filipinos everywhere.
Having a rapidly moving economy has its perks, but it takes a toll on the nation’s residents, especially on the young professionals who have to carry the weight of trying to kick start the country’s development campaign. Just like their favorite downtime pick-me-up, these modern day warriors have to be every bit as fast and creative, making them the perfect match. Whether you’re cooking up a plate before a big meeting, or for winding down after a hectic day, this treat has surely got your back.
One of the lesser known variants of the Filipino dish, Pancit Puti is rarely ever present in fiestas, parties and reunions where pancit reigns supreme over the dishes being served. This is because this certain type of pancit was never meant to be the star of the show when it comes to taste or aesthetic. Made out of boiled chicken breast and broth, this pancit was made out of the need for a quick fix, especially for those moments when guests drop by unannounced.
The existence of this dish alone says so much about the attitude of the Filipino people. Being a nation of soft hearted people, we never seem to know when to say no to the company of our friends and family. We never fail to show our care towards the people dear to us, choosing to accommodate them with something of our own making rather than something store bought.
Deemed as Pancit Palabok’s more complicated counterpart, Pancit Malabon is what some would deem as the classic, textbook definition of what pancit should be. A mouth watering mixture of everything you could want in a dish like this, it promises to satiate any cravings you might have. This dish usually carries a variety of seafood such as shelled shrimp, squid rings and oysters mixed in with the classic rice noodles and boiled eggs.
At first glance, Pancit Malabon, might seem like a mess. Squid Rings? Eggs? Noodles? Why would you do that? Why would anyone do that? But just like Manila, the Philippines’ ever growing community of strangers coming from all walks of life, it just works.
La Paz Batchoy
Quite possibly the most sinful of all the varieties listed, this type of pancit isn’t afraid to give you what you want. La Paz Batchoy is a unique variety of pancit, cooked in broth from either pork, beef or chicken and stuffed full of chicken chunks, beef and pork strips, shrimp and a few veggies for taste, topped with a raw egg and crushed chicharon to complete the package.
Now, the Filipino people aren’t known to tread lightly in the presence of fatty (but incredibly delicious) food. This dish is the perfect reflection of the Filipino appetite. When we want, we do so desperately.
Above are only the few varieties that we’re all too familiar with by name and by taste, but did you know there are ones that are too distinct that you’ll go all the way to their place of concoction? Try the Pansit Batil Patung when you’re in Tuguegarao, and Naga’s sinful Kinalas, among many others—when you get the chance.
Vincent Landrito is an undergraduate Economics student at De La Salle University, currently interning at FlipTrip PH. Inheriting his parents’ love of travel, he’s no stranger to exploring off the beaten road destinations and chasing adventure where he sees it.