They say that food tells a generation of stories about our culture and I cannot agree more.
Speaking from my experience as an Ilocano, it can be noticed that more than the distinct garlic of Laoag Longganisa, the bagoong of pinakbet and the meaty-improved taste of Bagnet, the other set of Ilocano dish that is most underrated due to its acquired taste reflect the value of frugality among the Ilocano people.
Take the example of the Pancit Lusay.
What is Pancit Lusay?
Pancit Lusay is a stir-fried noodle dish where it uses the Miki or Lusay noodles and is paired with Laoag Longganisa strips and flavored of tomatoes, egg, onions, and garlic. The final flavor comes from a spritz of ‘bagoong’ or the fermented fish condiment.
The exciting story behind the Pancit Lusay is according to elders, Lusay noodles used for this type of dish are the noodle scraps from the fresh ones where it was cut, and its length varies. The Ilocanos knowing that nothing in food should be wasted, those scraps were paired with leftover Laoag longganisa and bagoong. Thus, Pancit Lusay, now a delicacy.
Some would say that Pancit Lusay is much eccentric or peculiar compared to the usual noodle delicacy famous in the Philippines as these famous ‘pancit’ dishes stop at the stir-frying part of it and nurture the taste with meat and chicken. However, Pancit Lusay dares to add ‘bagoong’ which makes a massive difference with the taste, and it gives it a distinct flavor.
Angsarap.net compared Pancit Lusay to its other Asian country counterpart saying, “Having tried a lot of Asian noodles I can say this taste nearly similar to some Malaysian or Indonesian fried noodles that use belachan/terasi and eggs, it’s pungent and fishy delicious.”
Personally, Pancit Lusay is a favorite when it comes to afternoon snacks or when you want to be full and not eat dinner anymore. But some love to cook and eat it after drinking with friends. Again, I would understand if noodle lovers are not that happy with the inclusion of the bagoong sauce as not everyone is used to it, let alone it being in a noodle dish.
But I would say, give it a try and not think of the ‘bagoong’ or expect the usual Pancit and I promise that you’ll love it or at least appreciate the unique flavors of Pancit Lusay.