(Chicago)Pancit Luglug is probably my most favorite of all Filipino noodle dishes. Unlike most of the kids from my younger days who would request Filipino-style sweet spaghetti for their birthday parties, I would insist and demand my parents to serve palabok instead –not just during my birthdays but all the other occasions that I consider special.

Pancit Luglug is the same as palabok with the only difference of the kind of noodle being used.  Luglug uses a thick tubular rice noodle while palabok uses thin one called “bihon”. Both have the same shrimp-based sauce with lots of garnishing from seafood, meat, tofu, vegetable, eggs and practically anything you like.

Here’s my execution of Amy Besa’s wonderful pancit luglug recipe. It’s amazingly delicious and vibrantly beautiful on the plate. This is one noodle dish that I can confidently say to be authentically Filipino and not a Chinese copycat.


  • ½ pound large shrimp with heads and shells
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon achuete seeds soaked in ½ cup hot water for 20 minutes and drained
  • 2 tablespoons sweet potato starch or cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

1 pound dry tubular rice noodles, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes


  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • ¾ cup ½ -inch pieces firm tofu (about 6 ounces), patted dry
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 large hard boiled eggs, shelled and cut into wedges
  • ½ cup flaked smoked trout
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • Lime or lemon wedges for serving
  • Fish sauce for serving
  • Mis en place – The ingredients


For the shrimp juice, cut the heads off the shrimp and peel off the shells. Place the heads and shells in a food processor with 1 cup water. Process until the heads and shells have broken down. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing down on the solids to remove all the juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Coarsely chop the shrimp bodies and set aside.

To prepare the sauce, warm the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the pork and cook until it turns white, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp juice, achuete water and sweet potato starch mixture. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, or until they turn pink. Add the fish sauce and black pepper. Taste and add additional fish sauce and black pepper if needed. Set the sauce aside while you prepare the garnishes.

To prepare the garnishes, in a small nonstick skillet over low heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic slices and cook over low heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a paper towel-lined plate. Raise the heat to medium-high and add tofu squares. Fry for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to a paper towel-lined plate. Bring a large sauce pan of water to a boil, add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink and are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the rice noodles and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the noodles. Drain.

To serve, place the noodles in a serving bowl. Briefly reheat the sauce and pour it over noodles. Arrange the garnishes on top and serve with lime wedges and fish sauce on the side.

  • Extracting the essence of shrimp. Life can be easier using shrimp bouillon.

  • Separated components of Pancit Luglug

  • Beautifully assembled single serving of Pancit Luglug

  • Party-size assembled Pancit Luglug