The Happy Home Cook: Vegan Pancit Palabok (Gluten Free)

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Vegan Pancit Palabok (Photo by Astig Vegan)

Vegan Pancit Palabok (Photo by Astig Vegan)

Undeniably, Pancit is one of the most recognizable Filipino dishes in the US. After all, it’s a savory noodle dish always present at parties and potlucks. But unknown to some, Pancit comes in many forms –Palabok, Bihon, Luglog, Malabon, etc. Out of all, my favorite is Palabok.  That’s because Palabok is savory and “eggy”, with orange sauce and festive toppings like green onion, fried garlic, and chicharon. It’s beautifully served with kalamansi citrus on the side.

As a kid, I loved Palabok‘s creamy sauce and tender noodles. Back thenI would buy Palabok from our neighborhood eatery or karinderya.  Occasionally, my mom would also make it from scratch for events like birthdays and town fiestas. Before, I didn’t care for the recipe; I just wanted to eat it. Now that I’m vegan, I’m all about the recipe! Thankfully, my mom was more than happy to teach me her version (which was the one I featured on my YouTube video, also see below). Later on, I’ve discovered yet another way to veganize Pancit Palabok using more whole-based ingredients.

This second version does not call for vegetable broth and cornstarch. Rather, it calls for ingredients like potato flour, nutritional yeast, and Indian black salt (or kala namak). Also, it features a vegan chicharon recipe using a type of mushroom called snow fungus (the name may not sound appetizing, but trust me on this).

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hour

Pancit Palabok is a Filipino dish great for potlucks, parties, and gatherings. It has a variety of texture and flavor. This is the revised, improved version from my first recipe.

Recipe type: Party food, Snack

Serves: 6-8 servings


For the noodles:

·       1 package (16oz) cornstarch noodles. I used the brand, Super Q.

For the broth:

·       6 cups water or more if sauce gets too thick

·       ¾ cup potato flour (not potato starch!)

·       1½ tablespoon annatto powder dissolved in ¼ cup water

·       ½ cup nutritional yeast

·       1½ - 2 teaspoons sea salt

·       2 teaspoons black salt/kala namak (see note below)

·       ½ teaspoon garlic powder

·       ½ teaspoon onion powder

·       a pinch of black pepper


For the main ingredients:

·       3 tablespoons oil

·       4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, and minced

·       1 yellow onion, peeled and diced

·       ¾ cup julienne/cut into matchsticks carrots

·       ¾ cup thinly sliced diagonally green beans

·       1½ cup fried tofu cubes

·       salt and pepper to taste


For the toppings (optional):

·       1 tablespoon sliced green onions

·       1 tablespoon fried crushed garlic (see note below)

·       3-5 kalamansi citrus, cut in half (or any citrus fruit of choice)

·       2-3 tablespoons crushed vegan chicharon


1.     Soak noodles in a container of warm water for 20-30 minutes.

2.     Whisk water, potato flour, and annatto powder until fully dissolved. Pour mixture and the rest of the broth ingredients in a medium-sized pot. Mix well. Simmer for about ten minutes or until the annatto powder loses its earthy taste. Add a bit more water if sauce gets too thick to mix. Put to a boil then turn off heat.

3.     On a medium-sized pan, saute garlic and onion with oil until onion has turned translucent.

4.     Add carrots, green beans, and tofu. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 3-5 minutes then turn off heat.

5.     Transfer sautéed vegetables into the pot of broth. Mix well. Adjust sea salt and black salt to taste. It should taste saltier than preferred because you'll be mixing it later with bland noodles.

6.     Speaking of noodles, boil a pot of water. Cook the noodles then drain using a colander. If using a different kind of noodles, please follow the package directions.

To assemble:

1.     Place noodles on a serving container. Pour enough sauce to fully cover the noodles. Mix well.

2.     Generously pour more sauce on top.

3.     Sprinkle toppings if desired (citrus slices on the side).

4.     Serve hot.


• To be more time efficient, you can fry the tofu cubes while preparing and cutting the vegetables.
• You can find cornstarch noodles at most Asian grocery stores or online.
• You can find nutritional yeast at health food stores.
• You can find Indian black salt at most Indian grocery stores and health food stores.
• When frying the garlic for topping, simply fry in oil until browned then quickly turn off the heat.
• If you can't find potato flour, you can use dried boxed mash potatoes. Just make sure it's vegan.
• If you rather use potato starch, whisk 4-6 tablespoons potato starch in ½ cup vegetable broth before adding it to the pot.

At a recent cooking demo at Pasadena’s “Taste of South Lake“, I thought of showing people how to make Pancit Palabok. At first, I was worried because I was the first one on the lineup. But few minutes before the demo, a crowd started forming.  During the demo, everyone paid close attention, even asked questions.

Afterward, I gave away samples of the Palabok, as well as vegan Isaw and kalamansi citrus. Although most of the crowd are not vegan, everyone stood up to form a line. In fact, some of the samples even lured some of the festival-goers who were just walking by. Unfortunately, we ran out of samples for the passersby. Hopefully, they’re checking this post right now so they could recreate the dish at home.

Thank you to all those who attended my demo, and to my friend Rosie and my boyfriend Chris for going with me on a road trip and helping me with everything. And thank you to the organizers who believed in me and invited me to this wonderful event.

With the new recipe posted, I hope everyone can give this improved version a try and have a deeper connection with the familiar dish that is Pancit Palabok.

(Note: The product links are associated with my amazon associates account)

First published in

Chef Richgail Enriquez

Chef Richgail Enriquez

RG Enriquez at discovers ways to show that Filipino food can be vegan, healthy, and delicious without losing its soul. Born and raised in the Philippines, RG veganizes the Filipino food of her childhood. She has appeared on the television show, "Adobo Nation" and given demonstrations and talks at "Savor Filipino", "Taste of South Lake”, “Barrio Fiesta”, Pitzer College, and Cal-State East Bay.

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