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Recipe: Cook Pancit Cabagan a la Isabela local |

Food and Leisure

Recipe: Cook Pancit Cabagan a la Isabela local

Dolly Dy-Zulueta -
Recipe: Cook Pancit Cabagan a la Isabela local
Pancit Cabagan cooked by local resident Benjamin Maddara.
Dolly Dy-Zulueta

MANILA, Philippines — One of the local dishes in the province of Isabela is Pancit Cabagan. It’s a stir-fried noodle dish that originates from Cabagan, so almost every town resident knows how to cook the dish.

Each family has its own version of Pancit Cabagan, but there is a basic cooking procedure that they follow, which makes it different from regular Pancit Canton.

It has to do with the kind of noodles used, which are fresh Cabagan noodles. These are cooked using their local condiments, such as soy sauce and vinegar, which makes a world of difference.

The biggest surprise when eating the popular noodle dish from the North is eating it with a special vinegar sauce or dip that is drizzled over the noodles before partaking of it.

My husband Raff’s physical therapist, Benjie Maddara, from the East Avenue Medical Center’s Rehab Medicine department, shares how he cooks his version of Pancit Cabagan. It’s as authentic as Pancit Cabagan can be.

Pancit Cabagan


For the noodles:

2 tbsps. cooking oil

150 grams Baguio beans

1 pc. carrot, peeled

75 grams chicharo (sweet peas)

1 pc. whole small cabbage

125 grams squid balls, halved, fried

1/4 kg. pork belly

salt and pepper to taste

4 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tbsps. soy sauce

3 cups pork stock or water

1 tsp. brown sugar

750 grams fresh Pancit Cabagan

1 pc. red onion, cut into rings

For the sauce/dip:

1 cup local vinegar

1 tsp. cracked black pepper

1 pc. siling labuyo (bird’s eye chili), sliced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 pc. red onion, rough chopped


1. Slice Baguio beans diagonally. Set aside.

2. Cut the carrots into strips. Set aside.

3. Remove the hard ends and side fibers of chicharo. Leave the small ones as they are. Halve the bigger ones diagonally. Set aside.

4. Slice pork belly into strips.

5. In a pan, heat oil and cook Baguio beans, carrots and chicharo until crunchy. Remove.

6. Using the same pan with the oil, cook cabbage until crunchy. Remove.

7. In a big wok or pan, heat a little oil. Add pork, then pour in just enough water to cover. Cook until it boils. Remove the meat and set aside the stock for later use.

8. Heat the meat in the same big pan and cook until lightly toasted. Add a little oil and sauté until brown and crunchy. Season with salt. Add crushed garlic. Season with soy sauce. Pour in 3 cups of pork stock or water. Season with pepper and brown sugar. Adjust seasoning. Cover.

9.  Add fresh noodles and make sure the noodles are fully submerged in the liquid, but do not stir. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes or until noodles are done. There should still be some sauce with it. 

10. Make the sauce or dip. Combine all ingredients in a small container and mix well.

11. To assemble the dish, pour out the cooked noodles on a serving platter. Top with crunchy Baguio beans, carrots, chicharo and cabbage. Garnish with squid balls and onion rings. Serve with sauce or dip.

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