Pansate and Pancit de Carajay: A taste of Cavite Puerto (Cavite City)

 The cuisine of Cavite City  is undeniably rich. With a cosmopolitan history that stretches back to the Spanish Galleon trade, thus  it is  not surprising that its cuisines has been influenced by Hispanic-Mexican-Chino influences, after all the Galleon trade passes through Acapulco, Mexico from Spain all the way to the Orient and would reach its final destination at Cavite Puerto’s Barradero (wharf and dry dock). 

So you could just imagine, all the good stuff  coming from Europe, and the New World  would  reach its final destination in the Orient via  Cavite Puerto. With almost every luxury food and ingredient within their reach, no wonder  Chabacanos’ taste buds have been accustomed to more finer and sophisticated things.

A strong blend of  Mexican-Spanish inspiration in taste can be very well experienced through the various dishes that use the color and essence of  annatto seeds  or popularly known as “atsuete”. This is the basic and distinct characteristic of Caviteno cooking, you can see “atsuete" in almost every dishes from your  favorite adobo, to pansit, to fresh lumpia, to sotanghon soup and in any viand that would require  sauce in it.

These can be seen reflected in different dishes known to many Chabacanos, whose main characteristics are: its flavors should be bursting in your mouth as you savor it and it should always have a “flavorful sauce” in almost every dish. I don’t know any true-blooded Caviteno that would eat any dry dish and  that has no accompanying dish thar goes with it, Cavitenos love pairing food,  like Guinisang Monggo is best with fried fish and are enjoyed best on Fridays.  

Some of the traditional Caviteno dishes that truly reflects those “bursting-flavor_ characteristics are  Bacalao (a popular Lenten season dish made of dried  atlantic cod or gindarra, which is very expensive and tons of olive oil), Chicken Pipian, chicken in spicy peanut sauce , which has a very strong Mexican influence,  Pescado Blanco ( fish in white sauce with olive oil) and Calandracas (soup similar to minestrone sans the tomato sauce), Adobo de Carajay, a “sankutiado" dish of pork , liver and chicken cooked in wok, flavored with  vinegar, atusuete for color and taste, bay leaf and potatoes, more of a cross between adobo and afritada but richer)  

And when it comes to  Comida-China , there are only two sources of  good Chinese food in Cavite City - Chefoo and Asiong’s Panciteria. Both restaurants are icons already of  traditional Cavite cuisines, the former especializes  in Comida-China, which is not surprising after all, Cavite used to have the Sangley culture or Chinese traders as well aside from the Spanish, hence Sangley Point Naval base. While the latter offers Chabacano dishes that are truly representative of Caviteno cooking in terms of taste  and flavor.  

Talking about Chinese influences, when it comes to noodles there are three savory and delicious dishes that are very Cavite originals: you have the Pansit en su Tinta, bihon or rice noodles in squid ink (this is our take of the Spaghetti Di Nero), Pansate, a saucy stir fry egg noodle in sate sauce- medium hot best served as midnight snack and eaten with hot pandesal, and the afternoon delight, Pansit de Carajay with Puso ng Saging as its sour sauce. These three noodle dishes are  so easy to cook and prepare. All you need is follow the  recipes below and cook with love and passion. Hmm … que sabroso!  Comi-comi!!