I was in the NORTH. Up at the coasts of Cagayan and the Ilocos Norte provinces when I was again invited to be part of Lakbay Norte’s 2011 edition, Leg 2, visiting several new and interesting spots as well as reacquainted with some old sites.
I was staring hungrily at the noodle dish just served before me, piping hot and the layers upon layers of sahog (ingredients) was just making my mouth water: crushed chicharon (pork rind cracklings), ground carabeef, slivers of pork liver, mung bean sprouts (togue), scallions, julienned carrots and cabbages on a bed of hand made fresh miki (a type of noodle). A beaten egg, cooking from the heat, topping it all. Making matters unbearable was just the sumptuous aroma filling the small eatery. But I was in pansit batil patung heaven and was ready with fork in hand for my meal.
Noodle dishes are quite common in the country. While it has become generic in most places, there are a handful of towns and cities that have their own take of the humble fare, making it their own identity. The northern city of Tuguegarao in Cagayan province is not only famous for the adventure, natural and heritage destinations that tourists and travellers come for but, for the first time visitor, one’s curiosity is immediately piqued when almost all eateries, from hole in the wall joints to carinderias and restaurants are offering pansit batil patung (or patong).
The ubiquitous fare is basically a noodle dish with a mix of ingredients. Vegetables are first sautéed and seasoned then transferred into a dish or container. The meat follows and cooked in water to make a broth. Once tender and ready it is then removed and fresh miki is then placed in the pan. An egg is beaten in, stirred, seasoned and left to simmer.
After a minute or two, a portion of the soup is ladled out and then left to simmer again. Once the broth has reduced, the noodle is ready and is then served on a plate. The meat and stir fried vegetables are then garnished, fresh egg is whisked (batil) and, most of the time, half cooked, then placed on top (patung).
There can be variations of this cooking style and ingredients can vary with slivers of hotdog or lechon added. In most cases, it is egg, sunny side up, placed on top before serving. Once on the table, a cup of the soup and the pamasingo, a shallow container with freshly chopped onions, toyo, vinegar and kalamansi juice completes the ensemble.
It depends on the person, either one can drink the soup or pour it on the pansit batil patung and just consume with gusto.
The dish is filling enough and is already a meal in itself. There are many eateries around the city with almost everyone having his favourite noodle place. Popular ones are Gretchens, Paul Louis, Long Life, Joemar’s, Amigo’s and Nangs.
Pansit batil patung can cost from P30 to P80 depending on the place, size and number of ingredients included and one should never leave Tuguegarao City without savouring this popular and delicious fare.