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...
Regional variations of the Chinese-style noodle soup developed. Arguably the most well-known and well-loved version originated from Central Philippines. In La Paz, Iloilo City, the pork noodle soup is prepared with offal and topped with crushed chicharon, 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.
The term batchoy itself has two definitions in Filipino cuisine
- The collective term for pork tenderloin, spleen and kidneys; and
- The noodle soup from La Paz, Iloilo City.
- 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.
- To make La Paz batchoy, have the broth simmering while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. That way, the noodle soup is steaming hot when it is served.
- If offal is not up your alley, substitute with sliced cooked pork meat.
- 2 cups cooked egg noodles (see egg noodles shopping and preparation tips) for two
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup cooked and sliced pork offal (tenderloin, spleen and kidney) or pork meat
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced uncooked pork liverfish sauce, to taste
- Simmering broth (as described above)
- 2 eggs
- Crushed chicharon (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. Saute the garlic and ginger just until fragrant. Add the pork offal slices (or pork meat slices) and liver. Season with fish sauce. 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, I recommend) with crushed chicharon
Garnish with sliced scallions.
Serve immediately with kalamansi halves and more fish sauce on the side.