Third Time’s the Charm

One of the challenges of the Pancit King in his conquest to conquer (taste) each and every variety of pancit, is the availability of the dish. There are pancit dishes that he researched on, planned and travelled to its place of origin that upon getting to – only resulted in failure. As a fact, not all of these destinations are actually restaurants. Some of which are only mom-and-pop stalls, home-based and even peddled by street vendors especially those in the far flung provinces.

Pancit Sabsab in Taal, Batangas is one of these “hard-to-conquer” pancit dishes. It took me three attempts to finally have a taste of it.

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After three trips to Taal; the Pancit King and a balisungsong of Pancit Sabsab

As it turned-out, Pancit Sabsab is only being sold early mornings across the Taal public market. Also known as pancit ni Mang Biko, after the owner’s, it is literally only being sold while supplies lasts. This dish is somewhat just like any ordinary pancit dish. It is simply cooked in soup stock with no staple ingredient – miki, bihon or combination of the two may be used as the noodle; little bits of pork or dried shrimp may be used as the flavouring meat and any vegetable may also be added to it. On my successful visit, it was miki noodles with fried pieces of pork and upo or gourd as the vegetable. While food stalls in the market itself are also selling the same what-is-available-ingredient-pancit, Pancit Sabsab is uniquely different in two things – its presentation and its manner of eating.

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Pancit Sabsab of Taal, Batangas – Noodles (whatever kind is available) cooked with pork and gourd (upo) placed in banana leaf balisungsong – eaten to go

The name Pancit Sabsab is somewhat similar sounding to a more popular dish in Lucban, Quezon – Pancit Habhab. Like the Habhab, Sabsab is also served and eaten in a banana leaf. Sabsab is however wrapped as an on-the-go food in banana leaf folded as a balisungsong – in cone-shaped leaf with brown paper more popularly used in other native Filipino kakanin. As a utensil, wooden skewers are provided to be broken in two and used like chopsticks but eaten closer to the mouth – thus the term sabsab or kinakain nang pa-sabsab.

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How to eat Pancit Sabsab – on its balisungsong packaging of banana leaf and brown paper – making use of split bamboo skewers as chopsticks

The price of this somewhat usual but sought after pancit depends on the price given by the customer – Php.20 will give him around a cup of pancit and Php.30 will be around 2 cups full – approximately measured by the tindero.

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Loyal customers in front of Mang Biko’s “silong” waiting for the next batch of Pancit Sabsab to be cooked
Mang Biko’s, across Taal’s Public Market, Taal, Batangas

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