One of the best things to do when in the Western Visayas province of Iloilo is to eat. It is a foodie haven because its culinary traditions, handed down from generation to generation, are replete with such delicious dishes as pancit Molo, chicken inasal, batchoy, kansi, piaya, and puto Manapla. These are still prepared the traditional way today, thus preserving the heirloom recipes that have made Iloilo famous.
Pancit Molo is a traditional Ilonggo dish. Contrary to its name, however, it is not a pancit (noodle) dish. Instead, it is a soup dish with molo dumplings filled with meat and shrimps.
Well-known Ilonggo chef Rafael ‘Tibong” Jardeleza II, who made Tabu-an lunches and dinners famous and who opened his own restaurant called Rafael’s La Cocina Del Sur in 2015, makes a mean pancit Molo. He prepares it the traditional way, just the way he enjoyed it when he was a kid. He grew up eating this heartwarming soup dish, along with other classic Ilonggo dishes, so he still makes it regularly.
For the dumplings:
- 1/4 kg pork shoulder with fat, finely chopped
- 5 pcs large shrimps, peeled and finely chopped
- 3-4 pcs chives or spring onion, chopped
- Tahure (fermented tofu) or salt to taste
- Molo wrappers
- In a bowl, mix together pork, shrimps, and chives or spring onion.
- Season with tahure or salt to taste.
- Wrap in molo wrappers. On a piece of wrapper, spoon a small amount of the meat filling. Place the small mound on one edge of the wrapper. Fold wrapper diagonally until only the small triangle of the other edge shows. Turn the molo over. Grab the two edges of the elongated wrapper and twist up, interlocking them upwards. Dab with water to seal.
- Set dumplings aside.
For the soup:
- 1 pot water
- 150 g chicken meat with bones
- 250 g pork meat
- Chicken and pork bones
- 2 Tbsp chopped onion
- 6 pcs large whole shrimps, peeled
- Shrimp shell
- 12 pcs hibe (dried shrimps)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced and fried until golden brown
- Chopped chives or spring onion
- Combine chicken meat with bones, pork meat, and pork bones. Boil.
- When boiling, add onions and shrimps.
- Crush shrimp shells and hibe and add to the boiling broth. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a boil, lower flame, and simmer until meat is tender. Strain. Discard shrimp shells.
- Shred chicken meat and chop chicken skin. Discard the bones.
- Discard pork bones. Chop pork meat.
- Chop shrimps.
- Pour broth back into the pot with the chicken, pork, and shrimps. Let boil.
- Drop prepared molo dumplings into the boiling broth and cook until done.
- Ladle soup and dumplings into soup bowls. Sprinkle with fried garlic and chopped chives, and serve.
*Makes 4 servings.
Photographs by Rafael R. Zulueta
This article originally on Asian Dragon’s April – May 2016 issue, available for download on Magzter.