I fondly remember eating batchoy over a small, wooden, make-shift ‘cafeteria’ along the north expressway about twenty to twenty-five years ago. My dad, uncle, cousin and I were heading on a road trip to Batac, my dad and uncle’s birthplace. These eateries cum sari-sari stores were scattered all over the highway and travelling with relatives who had strong traditional ties and background to the provincial landscape only beckons us to stopover, sit down and eat traditional Ilocano fare. They were badly missed by my dad and uncle; by the look at their faces and gusto in their meals. My cousin and I, on the other hand, went for the more familiar Tagalog noodle soup, and bagnet. I loved both, and both came out really cheap.
The Filipino noodle soup is an electrifying and eclectic mixture of pork offal, chicken, maybe some vegetables, and several types or kinds of noodles. These, I believe, are the main characteristics of most pinoy noodle soup. It looks messy, greasy and uninviting, but the taste is to match. Moreover, many noodle soup dishes have been pre-dressed, displayed at the window display case, and are ready to be served at moments notice by simply pouring the very, very, and extremely hot broth. I don’t know how many versions have been made with this dish, but the most common factor amongst all is the fried garlic. Filipinos just can’t eat without garlic; from start to finish. And, of course, Ilocos Norte, as I discovered was laced with garlic at every streetcorner of the city.
Anyway, I was in the process of cleaning and clearing up my fridge when I came up with the idea of doing a Batchoy; if it’s at all a Batchoy. What I had were the following: Pork Broth (Nilaga), Chicken Stock, Rib-eye fillets, pre-cooked noodles, beansprouts, and a heap of peeled garlic. I was on my way.
I won’t go in the process on how a ‘Nilaga’ or a chicken stock is prepared. Each one has his or her way, but for this noodle soup, I combined both and added a touch of bouillon cube for that extra kick.
- Pork (from Pork Nilaga)
- Rib-eye fillets (use for pho or hot pot)
- White Onions
- Garlic, minced and fried to golden
- Chicharon, crushed
- Dried Egg noodles, pre-cooked
- Lemon Juice or Lime Juice
- Thai Basil, julienned
- Thai Chili (optional)
- Ground Black Pepper
- Sea Salt
- Hardboiled egg (your choice)
Heat a wok with oil and pan-fry the garlic. Set aside the fried garlic, and using the same oil, start sauteing the ginger. Quickly add the chopped onions and stir vigorously. Pour a portion of the pork broth, bouillon cube, and another equal portion of the chicken stock. Tossed in the pork from the nilaga, some rib-eye fillets and let it simmer for a few minutes or until the fillets have been cooked to doneness.
Pour everything in a bowl with the pre-cooked noodles and beansprouts. Dress with the crushed chicharon and fried garlic and finish it off with the Thai Basil, Thai Chili and raw beansprouts. Drizzle with patis and squeeze some lemon juice before serving.
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