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Pancit Molo

Posted by JayPee Monday, July 26, 2010

Named after one of Iloilo City’s districts, Pancit Molo is one of the more identifiable pancit dishes in the country. It stands out uniquely among the noodle dishes mainly because of its non-traditional pancit look. It is a derivative of the Chinese wonton (filled dumplings) made into a soup.
Pancit Molo’s origins must also have been the same time that the concept of Cantonese Chinese dim sum, linked to the Chinese tradition of drinking tea or yum cha, started in the country. The Chinese traders journeying through their trade routes would probably makes stops at tea house to rest and snack on light dim sum items – noodles, dumplings, soups and little cakes.
Thus it came to be that the favored stop at the time was probably Iloilo, particularly the quiet little town of Molo (know as Parian then), where enterprising Chinese businessmen probably decided to settle and set up little tea houses to cater to Chinese customers. Over time, intermarriages between Chinese and Filipinos eventually fused the two cultures, which resulted in a fusion of traditions and lifestyles now deeply embedded in our culture, and particularly evident in our local cooking.

What makes the pancit Molo different from fro mall the other pancit dishes is that the Molo wrapper used to wrap the filling is not cut into thin noodle strips but is a rolled square sheet of pasta dough used to encase the ground meat filling. Just like the Italian ravioli or tortellini which hare classified as pasta, pancit Molo, by virtue of its wonton wrapper is classified as a noodle.

The filled dumplings used for this soup often use ingredients such a ground pork, chicken and/or shrimps that are mixed together with vegetables like garlic, onions, carrots, leeks (or chives or even that aromatic and flavourful kutsay), parsley or coriander. Other recipes mention the addition of other ingredients such as tajure (fermented soy bean mash), minced Chinese ham, chopped Spanish chorizos (sausages) and water chestnuts or singkamas (jicama). The mixture is then bound with eggs and seasoned (usually with salt and pepper) before being wrapped individually in wheat of rice flour won ton wrappers.
Kutsay and tajure
The filling mixture is also similar to, if not the same as, the stuffing for fried lumpiang shanghai (another localized Filipino version of the Chinese spring roll). There are several ways to shape the dumplings depending on the recipe specification. One often encounters the following shapes – folded triangles, sio mai pouches known as wontons, or ravioli or tortellini shapes. These are then dropped in a boiling chicken broth where they are simmered until cooked (that is when these pouches float) and then ladled into bowls or soup tureens before being served.The broth on the other hand, often uses chicken as its base for preparing the stock in which dumplings, and sometimes cut up wonton wrappers, are cooked, It is then served with a garnish of fried garlic chips and minced chives, kutsay or coriander leaves.

Pancit Molo
can be a wonderful meryenda accompanied by biscocho (toasted bread) or galletas (thin round cookies) from another Molo icon – Panaderia de Molo. This soup dish easily complements plated meals, buffet menus or just even a simple homey meal. Pancit Molo though, unlike Lapaz batchoy, is more of a home made specialty even in Iloilo that there is no single restaurant that could claim it or even pride itself in having the best. Its recipe is not even standardized varies depending upon family traditions. Nonetheless it is one of the country’s better dishes, one that can certainly stand among the other soups, not only the Philippines but the world.

Article courtesy of
Food Magazine May 2006 issue

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