A long time ago, on my first trip to the city of Iloilo, I fell in love with La Paz Batchoy, a noodle soup served with slivers of pork loin, liver, spleen and kidney, topped with crushed chicharon and sometimes garnished with raw egg. From my first sip of the steaming broth to my last forkful of noodles, I experienced perfection.
Many years later, I would redefine my concept of the perfect La Paz Batchoy. Across the Guimaras Strait from Iloilo lies the city of Bacolod. At the iconic 21 Restaurant along Lacson Street, I enjoyed the most amazing bowl of La Paz Batchoy with the richest broth I had ever tasted. It was the pinnacle, I thought, of my La Paz Batchoy experience.
A year later, again in Bacolod, I had a change of heart once more about my definition of the perfect La Paz Batchoy. At Pendy’s, the noodle soup was topped with a copious amount of chopped lechon. It was an unforgettable meal.
Clearly, there are many variants of La Paz Batchoy as there are cooks. And one is not necessarily superior nor inferior to the others. They’re all the same noodle soup but every cook’s version has a slant that makes it different from the rest. And, the other day, I reminisced with nostalgia about all my La Paz Batchoy adventures as I munched on what must be the most important garnish of the noodle soup—chicharon. But not just any chicharon—I’m talking chicharon with salted egg.
We have a friend, Miguel, whom Speedy and I met at the Oarhouse, a bar owned by another friend, Ben. Miguel owns Rafik Shawarma, a stall at the weekend markets on Salcedo and Legazpi. We’ve kept in touch via Facebook.
Last week, Speedy read that Miguel’s wife, Grace, was getting ready to sell chicharon with salted egg. We inquired, we made arrangements, we deposited the payment and, yesterday, our order of four jars of chicharon with salted egg was delivered to our house.
Perfectly puffed pork rind coated with ground dried salted egg. Completely handmade. As I munched my nth piece, I dreamed of La Paz Batchoy and I thought just how much richer, and tastier, the noodle soup would be if the topping was chicharon with salted egg.
So, I experimented. I made broth for the noodle soup, Speedy bought egg noodles, chicken and pork. I assembled the noodles and meats in bowls…
… And then, I crushed several pieces of the Grace’s chicharon with salted egg that went straight on top of the steaming bowl of meat and noodle soup.
La Paz Batchoy with salted egg chicharon is something you have to try to understand what difference the salted egg angle makes.
Grace’s handmade chicharon with salted egg is available at the Salcedo Saturday Market. If that’s too far, you may text 09175435917 to make arrangements for home delivery. Yep, make people happy this Christmas by gifting them with a jar or two of Grace’s handmade chicharon with salted egg.