Five years ago or so, squid ink infused dishes became popular in the Metro. There are Spanish restaurants serving paella negra and well-known chefs serving fresh squid ink pasta. Much to my delight and curiosity, there is a black pancit as well that is being cooked and eaten by Cavitenos way before its popularity. According to Food Writer Ige Ramos, pancit pusit or pancit choka en su tinta (choka means pusit) started with the local fishermen. Whenever fishes are scarce and what they only caught are a few heads of squid, they would combine these with noodles for their families to feed on. Including the ink sacs and cooking with noodles would maximize the squid rather than eating them with rice. Sonny Lua of Asiong’s Carinderia & Cafe revived and developed the dish to become one of their restaurant’s best sellers.
Back in 2012 I was able to visit Asiong’s Carinderia & Cafe. The black pancit is not part of their “cooked food section” scooped turo-turo stye. This special pancit will only be cooked upon order. They are also not serving single or short orders as they would be requiring a certain weight of squid to extract enough ink that will produce the right color and flavor of this noodle dish. And so I had no choice but to order a serving good for 10 people. I asked the server if they could give us a portion of it to be served for dine-in and the rest for take-out as a pasalubong back home. They gladly agreed.
Pancit Pusit is truly one of the best tasting noodle dishes for the “pancit king“. The glass noodles are cooked perfectly with the squid ink producing a color not too bland nor too dark. I was partly expecting the mixture to be a bit vinegary similar to adobong pusit, rather the seafood’s flavor is well balanced with it being sauteed with onion and garlic. The fresh squid slices are also cooked right still having enough bite to it. Crumbled pork rinds (chicharon), toasted garlic bits and slices of chinese celery or kinchay are its toppings with kamias to balance the flavor with juicy sour notes.
On my latest visit of the province, it is unfortunate that Asiong‘s has already closed and transferred to Silang. It is a bit far from Cavite city and could no longer be added to my itinerary due to time constraint. I would just be visiting it some other time with Tagaytay as a side trip. However, for Pancit Pusit, the locals were pointing me to Bernie’s Kitchenette, a carinderia located at the same block of the former Asiong’s. They are also serving Pancit Pusit in their menu for Php.250 good for 5 persons.
Inspired by Asiong’s, Pancit Pusit may also be tried here in Pasig, Metro Manila at Pancit Center in Pioneer St., Kapitolyo. They are serving solo orders to bilao orders for up to 25 persons. For more information, http://www.facebook.com/pancitcenter or pancitcenter.com.