appetite

PopChips Palabok

When I arrived home after the PopChips cooking competition, I pondered how to use the original or BBQ PopChips in an inventive way that enhances flavor and texture. Their light, airy nature makes them ideal for a crumb topping, binder for veggie or meat burgers, or as a vehicle for tiny hors d’oeuvres. I thought of incorporating them into arepas, scallion pancakes, or a Filipino caesar salad.

I circulated through my mental recipe box for something that would “pop” with crumbled PopChips…and landed on pancit palabok, a favorite Filipino noodle dish from childhood. My mother cooked lots of Filipino food: empanadas, chicken adobo, lumpia (egg rolls), and variations of pancit. I loved being in the kitchen with her, watching her create the recipes from her little green recipe box. I especially loved getting to cut up the hard boiled eggs for topping pancit with our little egg slicer. Now that I live in Somerville, I have to ask her for advice by text or phone when I’m attempting adobo, pancit, or other dishes.

scan0001 Party time, circa 1981 #nofilter

Filipino food has a lot of Spanish and Chinese influences, with lots of interplay between sweet, sour, and salty flavors. Pancit palabok is a rice noodle dish topped with a shrimp-based sauce (whose red color comes from achiote powder), hard boiled eggs, shrimp, ground pork, scallions, garlic, and pork rinds. The pancit is usually served with kalamansi limes, which add a nice citrusy kick. I thought the PopChips would be a great healthy substitute for the crumbled pork rinds (chicharrons) that usually top the dish. My PopChip of choice: brown rice, quinoa, and chia (bought them post-competition to make sure there were enough for topping all of the pancit palabok).

There are many variations on palabok toppings: bacon, chorizo, tofu, tinapa flakes, mussels, and calamari. Likewise, the sauce ingredients span a wide spectrum of ready-made to homemade. Some folks use Knorr shrimp boullion cubes for the sauce while others make their own shrimp stock using the shells from their prawns. My variation includes zoodles (zucchini noodles), shrimp, tofu, and calamari.

palabok

This makes a lot. My fiance and I each ate a serving for dinner and there was enough left over for 3-4 more servings.

Noodles
4 zucchini

1. Put zucchini through a spiral slicer to make zoodles.
2. Put them in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for two minutes to “cook” them.
3. Place noodles into serving dish (or on plates).

Sauce
1.5 oz seafood stock (I used Glace de Mer)
4 tablespoons flour
1 packet Goya Sazon
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
*in retrospect, I wish I’d added some olive oil here.

I should have started the sauce by mixing oil/grease and flour and cooking those together before adding the shrimp stock, water, Goya Sazon, fish sauce, and soy sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Toppings
31-40 large shrimp (I used Whole Foods frozen cooked shrimp and thawed it)
1 pound calamari (rings and tentacles)
1 package extra firm tofu, cubed
fish sauce and soy sauce for marinade
2 cups PopChips
1 head garlic, minced
4 hardboiled eggs (chopped into wedges)
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chives, chopped
avocado or olive oil
limes for garnish

1. Marinade the shrimp and calamari in fish sauce and soy sauce (about 30 minutes).
2. Fry the tofu cubes until golden.
3. Put the PopChips in a large ziploc bag and poke a hole in the bag. Roll a rolling pin over the bag until the PopChips are crumbled.
3. Toast the garlic and PopChips in a pan with about 3 tablespoons of oil until golden. Name them Pop-Chipcharrons.
4. Grill the calamari for about 2 minutes (until the rings and tentacles turn opaque).
5. Heat the thawed shrimp in a pan.
6. Mix together the shrimp, calamari, tofu, and sauce in a large sauce pan. Simmer for about five minutes.
7. Spoon the shrimp, calamari, tofu, and sauce mixture over the noodles. Top with the hardboiled eggs, scallions, chives, and Pop-Chipcharrons. Add lime to taste.

IMG_9960

Overall, I was happy with the dish. The zoodles’ lightness and freshness complemented the shrimp, calamari, and tofu. The hard boiled eggs (cooked according to the Mark Bittman method) turned out well, as did the calamari (which I cooked fresh for the first time). I liked that the Pop-Chipcharrons added the same light, airy crunch that real pork rinds do. For next time, I will work on improving the consistency/intensity of the sauce (perhaps with my own shrimp stock). I may also try this as a lettuce wrap with pork carnitas.

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