I've always been a fan of pancit palabok and pancit Malabon. I have to admit, their orange-yellow sauces have always confused me. To me, they were both delicious Filipino noodle dishes that I'll never tire of eating for breakfast, lunch, and merienda. I decided to finally find out the difference, and if you're also curious like me, read on.
This dish makes use of thin rice noodles, aka bihon. The sauce's base is a mix of shrimp and pork broth with the presence of fish sauce (patis). It gets its color from annatto seeds (atsuete). The usual seafood and meat ingredients are shrimp, tinapa flakes, ground pork, and chicharon. It is served with the sauce on top which should be mixed with the noodles before it is consumed.
Pancit Malabon makes use of thicker rice noodles, but its sauce features almost the same ingredients as palabok but with a slight difference. According to Yummy.ph, pancit Malabon's sauce is a "thick mixture cooked with fish sauce, crab fat, and annatto seeds." Tinapa flakes and chicharon used as toppings. There are instances when mussels and oysters are included, too. It is served with the sauce already mixed with the noodles.
The bottom line
Pancit palabok uses bihon, has shrimp broth in the sauce, and is served with the sauce on top. On the other hand, pancit Malabon features thicker rice noodles, and its sauce contains crab fat. The sauce is mixed with the noodles before it is brought to the table.
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