The secret to this very inexpensive noodle dish is bacon-cut pork belly. In most supermarkets, these are sold pre-cut in trays. If they’re not available in your local supermarket, ask the butcher to machine-cut semi-frozen pork belly (liempo) in slices as thin as bacon.
That large platter of pancit canton in the photo (and that was only about 3/4 of the entire batch) contained only 300 grams of pork but, with the thin slices, there were more pork pieces than there would have been ordinarily had the meat been cut in bigger pieces. It’s a trick I learned from Stephen Yan. When there’s little meat, you stretch it literally by cutting it into thin slices and then into small pieces. And to make the dish even more inexpensive, I did away with too many vegetables because even the price of veggies shoot up during the Christmas season. Cut the pork belly into small pieces (how small depends on how much you want to extend it). Peel and finely slice the onion. Peel and finely mince the garlic. Peel and cut the carrot into matchsticks. Trim the onion leaves and cut into 2-inch lengths.
Heat the cooking oil in a large shallow pan (a wok is best). Add the pork and cook over high heat for about five minutes. Add the garlic, carrot, and onion and cook for another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and pour in about 2 cups of water. Press the noodles lightly into the liquid. As soon as the noodles start to soften, stir. Cover the pan and cook the noodles, meat, and vegetables over medium-low heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Spaghetti with longganisa (sausage) meatballs A Jamie Oliver-inspired dish. He made meatballs from Italian sausages; I used longganisa the garlicky kind. The first time I cooked this spaghetti with sausage meatballs dish, I used longganisa hamonado the sweet kind. It didn’t work. The sauce was a mongrel of flavors that seemed hell-bent on fighting with each other. Salty, garlicky longganisa works best. Cut off one end of the casing of each longganisa and squeeze out the meat. Divide each sausage into two to three portions and roll them lightly between the palm of your hands.
Heat the olive oil in a casserole. Note: use a large casserole so you can just add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce and toss everything there. Lightly fry the sausage balls. Add the chopped onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Cook for a few minutes, stirring lightly. Add the tomatoes (and liquid if using canned), bay leaves, and basil. Season with salt, pepper, and a little sugar (you can adjust the seasonings later). Cover tightly and simmer for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well, toss with the butter, and keep warm. When the sauce is done, taste it and add more salt, pepper, and sugar if necessary. Add the cooked spaghetti in and toss. Grate some cheese over the pasta before serving. Serve more grated cheese on the side. What? The casserole looks messy? Wipe with a kitchen towel. I like it like that. So natural. And yeah, it’s best enjoyed with corn dogs.