From a Manila city girl’s point of view I could never understand why my closest Ilonggo friends had door bell sounding names (like Bing-bing, Ging-ging, Neneng, Dayday, or Ting) and why they were crazy about batchoy. What’s the big fuss about this Chinese influenced egg noodle soup anyway???
I finally got the chance to visit batchoy’s birthplace the La Paz market in Iloilo. They say that in the olden days the market had a counter and at the center people watched in amusement as the cooks prepared the dish. The first stalls that originated in La Paz market were Deco’s, Ted’s, Netongs, Loling and Pertong. Deco’s is now a fast growing franchise owned by the Mang Inasal chain. I was brought to the hole in the wall Netongs for the authentic experience. Batchoy is eaten with steamed rice cakes called Puto Manapla. And it is also customary to be able to ask a refill of the stock.
Batchoy was derived from “Ba-chui” meaning pieces of meat in Chinese. I watched as the cook prepared my order. First he used his bare hands and placed fresh egg noodles called
miki into the bowl. Slices of cooked hung boiled meat, liver, and offals were cut up and added. Next was a hearty broth of long simmering beef shanks seasoned with the local guinamos (shrimp paste). The soup is further topped with fried garlic, crushed chicharon (crispy deep fried pork skin), and spring onions. He gets a giant bone and removes the marrow so that it is added. The sight almost gave me a heart attack! Then I stop him as he is about to put a heaping teaspoon of white powder into the bowl. I ask if it is salt but he answers that it is vetsin (MSG). No msg for me please manong! With all the ingredients I ask myself if this guy wants to kill me through cardiac arrest??? hahaha!
Then for the first time I try my first authentic La Paz Batchoy. It was so rich and flavorful. This was one delightful experience worth dying for!!!! Nami!