Celebrating the Feast of the Sto. Niño has been apart of my life since I was a little girl. I grew up in Tondo, Manila, where the same feast is celebrated every 3rdSunday of January just like in Cebu. Aside from the religious rituals, my memories and recollection of this grand and festive event are filled with gastronomic fare.
Before 2018 came to a close, I was invited by the Gen. Manager Brian Connelly of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu to be an Event Ambassador of their upcoming Culinary Journey in January, “Sugbusog” with the theme “Keeping the tradition, Sugbusog Gihapon” by way of sharing my signature dish “Pancit Luglug” in a promotional video teaching one of my favorite food writer, Michael Karlo Lim, how to cook the popular Filipino dish. Pancit Luglug is always served at home to my loved ones and friends and I was “thrilled” to say the least, to cook this for a 5-star hotel, no less!
Pancit Luglug is the Kapampangan version of Pancit Palabok that uses thicker rice noodles and has a richer sauce and more toppings. The term “luglug” means to submerge in water, which we also refer to as “niluluglug”. I remember my mother using a bamboo basket to do this. The sauce is shrimp-head based and rendered orange in color by annatto seeds or powder. For fuller flavor, I add pork broth to the sauce and season with “patis” or fish sauce. I prefer my luglug with seafood toppings only since my children avoid eating pork meat. Hence the toppings include shrimps, crushed chicharon, tinapa flakes, fried tofu, baby squid rings, fried garlic, spring onions, and a sprig of cilantro (wansoy). Calamansi and patis must always be served on the side.
The “Sugbusog” is now on its 12th year and recreates essence of eating in the streets. Cebuano dishes include the ubiquitous Lechon, Balbacua, Humba, Caldereta, Bistek Cebuano (actually Bistek Tagalog with beef slices marinated in soy and calamansi, served with onion rings) and classic street food (kwek kwek, BBQ on sticks, Balut, fish & squid balls) and of course, Pancit Luglug, which one gets to assemble. Catch this all-Filipino food spread at the Café Marco of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu on January 15 to 21, 2019. VIVA PIT SENYOR!
(Photos and text by Aissa dela Cruz. This article came out first from KITCHEN STORIES by Aissa dela Cruz.)