Udon Palabok

This riff on the Filipino staple pancit palabok pairs a luscious shrimp sauce with bouncy udon instead of the traditional rice noodles.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    40 minutes


By Abi Balingit

Published on March 28, 2024

Pancit palabok is a Filipino noodle dish with a savory shrimp sauce that’s traditionally paired with toppings like freshly cooked shrimp, lemon wedges, scallions, and chicharron (fried pork skins). Instead of the classic thin rice noodles called bihon, cookbook author Abi Balingit prefers udon, which gives the dish a delightful chewy texture. She’s also partial to finishing each bowl with crushed chili-lime chicharrones but notes that they’re optional (Balingit omits the pork cracklings when she makes her udon palabok for fish Fridays during Lent). The final pièce de résistance is the salmon roe garnish, which adds another fun textural element to the dish. 

Featured in “Fish Friday Around the World” by Shane Mitchell.


For the shrimp:

  • ¾ lb. head-on, shell-on medium shrimp
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. crab paste

For the sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. annatto seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp. lobster base
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • One 8-oz. bottle clam juice
  • ¼ cup cornstarch

For the udon:

  • Four 7-oz. blocks frozen udon (or substitute fresh or dried)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, sliced hard-boiled eggs, lemon wedges, salmon roe, and sliced scallions, for serving


Step 1

Cook the shrimp: Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on and reserving the heads and shells for the sauce. To a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, stir in the crab paste with a wooden spoon and cook until fragrant, about 1–2 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook, turning once, until the shrimp are pink, 4–6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

Step 2

Make the sauce: To the same skillet over high heat, add the annatto seeds, reserved shrimp heads and shells, and 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat, strain the stock into a large bowl, and set aside (discard the solids).

Step 3

To the same skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 5 minutes. Add the reserved stock and bring to a boil, then add the lobster base, garlic powder, and onion powder. 

Step 4

In a small bowl, whisk together the clam juice and cornstarch into a slurry. Using a wooden spoon, stir the slurry into the skillet, then bring to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens to a gravy-like consistency, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Step 5

Cook the udon: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the udon and cook according to the package directions. Drain, then divide the udon among bowls. 

Step 6

Divide the reserved sauce and shrimp evenly among bowls. Garnish with the black pepper, eggs, lemon, salmon roe, and scallions, and serve immediately.

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