The term batchoy itself has two definitions in Filipino cuisine. It is the collective term for pork tenderloin, spleen, and kidneys and it also means the noodle soup from La Paz, Iloilo City.
Long before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, the natives had been trading with the Chinese for a long time. This regular interaction introduced the locals to many Chinese dishes including the ubiquitous noodle soup which came to be known as mami. Because the meat varies, mami is often preceded by a descriptive word like pork mami, chicken mami, wonton mami, and so on.
Regional variations of the Chinese-style noodle soup developed. Arguably the most well-known and well-loved version originated from the Central Philippines. In La Paz, Iloilo City, the pork noodle soup is prepared with offal and topped with crushed chicharron, pork cracklings that found its way into the local cuisine via Spain. This China-meets-Spain noodle soup came to be known as La Paz batchoy.
- 2 cups cooked egg noodles
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic (minced)
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger (grated)
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup cooked pork offal (sliced tenderloin, spleen, and kidney) or pork meat
- 1/4 cup uncooked pork liver (thinly sliced)
- Fish sauce (to taste)
- 2 large eggs
- Simmering broth
- Crushed chicharron (store-bought is fine; to taste)
- Garnish: sliced scallions
Divide the egg noodles between two large bowls.
Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and ginger and saute just until fragrant. Add the pork tenderloin and offal (or pork meat slices). Season with fish sauce to taste. Cook just until the meat has absorbed the fish sauce and the liver is cooked through but not overdone.
Divide the sauteed meat between the two bowls.
Crack an egg over the noodles and meat.
Pour in simmering broth.
Sprinkle generously with crushed chicharron.
Garnish with sliced scallions.
Serve immediately with kalamansi halves and more fish sauce on the side.
More About Batchoy
To make a good batchoy, start with a rich homemade broth. And, if offal is not a taste you've acquired, you can substitute it with sliced cooked pork meat.
- What makes La Paz batchoy richer than other pork mami versions is the broth. Spices and aromatics (usually shallots, garlic cloves, peppercorns, and bay leaves), beef bones (with the marrow), pork bones, and shrimp heads and shells are simmered together for hours until the chunks of beef marrow fall off the bones, partially liquefy, and get mixed into the broth.
- Because of the addition of shrimp heads and shells, the broth does not taste too much of meat fat and neither does the shrimp taste overwhelm. It is, put simply, a perfect balance.
- Have this rich broth simmering while you prepare the rest of the ingredients for La Paz batchoy. That way, the noodle soup is at the perfect steaming-hot temperature when it is served.