How to cook: Pancit Molo (or is it Molo soup?)

Whether you call it pancit molo or molo soup, it is the same basic Filipino soup dish — pork dumpling or wonton soup often with bits of cooked chicken in the broth. I’ve always wondered why it goes with a pancit (noodles) label when there are no noodles in the soup. Then, I read somewhere, I don’t anymore remember where, that because the dumpling (wonton) wrappers are made with basic noodle ingredients (i.e., flour, salt and water), the presence of the wrappers in the soup somehow qualifies it as a noodle soup.

The “Molo” part of the soup’s name is really descriptive of its history. Today, Molo is a district in the city if Iloilo. It was a town during the Spanish colonial period. And, before that, a place where the locals traded with the Chinese. Many of the Chinese traders stayed and settled permanently in the place and it already had a large Chinese population by the time the Spaniards arrived. Hence, its old name, Pari-an or Chinatown.

Today, the descendants of these early Chinese settlers can be found in such names as Consing, Ditching, Lacson, Layson, Locsin, Yulo and Yusay… [Read more: Molo, Iloilo: Its prominent place in history]

When the town’s name became Molo, I am not sure. But it was already known as Molo by the time that someone sold the first bowl of Pancit Molo or Molo soup. Clearly, it was a local version of the Chinese wonton soup. Considering how Molo used to be known as Chinatown, we can safely deduce that the Chinese wonton soup is indeed the ancestor of the Pancit Molo or Molo soup.

There are two ways to make Molo soup — the authentic (and more laborious way) or the easy way. The authentic way is to prepare the dumplings from scratch, wrap them one by one and cook them in simmering broth. The easy way is to buy prepared dumplings and simply drop them in the broth.

If you choose the easy way, make sure to get good quality dumplings. The dumplings you see in the photos were store-bought.

If you choose the authentic way, there are several versions for making the dumplings. Some add minced shrimp to the filling; others add whole shrimps to the broth. I do neither because I am allergic to shrimps. When my family craves for shrimps, I cook them as a separate dish. I never use them as an ingredient unless I am cooking another dish that is friendlier to my digestive system.

You can experiment with the different variations. You can add pieces of chicken meat to the broth for a real “authentic” Molo soup.

When I make wonton soup from scratch, I just use my basic dumpling filling recipe. If you want a more Filipino flavor, use the recipe below and add adding malunggay leaves for a real Filipino feel.

Pancit Molo (or is it Molo soup?)

Recipe: Pancit Molo or Molo soup

Ingredients

  • 250 to 300 g. of ground pork plus 50 g. of chopped fresh shrimps OR 350 g. to 400 g. of ground pork only
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp. of grated ginger
  • 1/2 carrot, grated
  • 2 tbsps. of finely sliced onion leaves
  • about 1 tbsp. of patis (fish sauce)
  • ground pepper
  • 50 pcs. of wonton wrapper (available in supermarkets and Oriental food stores)

For the soup:

  • 1 tbsp. of cooking oil
  • 1 tsp. of minced garlic
  • about 1/2 c. of thinly sliced onions
  • 8 to 10 c. of broth, preferably homemade (see how)
  • patis (fish sauce), to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 c. of malunggay leaves (see how to prepare) or 1/4 c. of finely sliced onion leaves

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the filling, (except the wonton wrappers, of course). Use to prepare the dumplings (see guide).
  2. Heat the cooking oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot. Saute the garlic and onions just until fragrant. Pour in the broth and bring to a simmer.
  3. Drop the prepared dumplings one by one. Simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. During the last few minutes of simmering, taste the broth and add more patis and pepper, as needed. Add the malunggay leaves, if using (if using onion leaves, add them just before serving).
  5. Serve the soup as soon as it’s done.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4 to 6

  • shane joshua

    Connie,

    Hi!

    Can you give me any idea how much broth do I have to add if I’m making 40-60 molos?

    Cheers!

    • hpum

      How come most if not all recipes in this site don’t show the yield of their recipes?

  • Pong Ebron

    i know how to make pansit molo suop, especialty po ito ng mga ilongo aside from lapaz batchoy, di no po natanong masarap rin ako mag luto ng batchoy, palabok at pansit molo.

    • Ruby Agnir

      I am in charge of a luncheon-type meal and my American friends want me to cook pancit molo again, because they thought it was yummy when they first tasted it. Question: What other dishes can be paired with the soup without making the meal heavy? This has to do with writing up a menu with Pancit Molo as the main dish. Help!

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie
  • Lia de la Cruz

    Hello,
    Pumalpak luto ko :( And shame of shames, taga-Molo, Iloilo pa naman ang pamilya ko. I boiled instead of simmered the dumplings, so the siomai wrappers disintegrated and ended up thickening the soup. Oh, the taste was good, but the presentation was disastrous — all those naked pancit molo balls floating around…!

    Please teach me how to wrap the molo balls so they don’t unravel in the soup.

    Salamat po!

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  • http://www.namitgid.blogspot.com gaya

    sarap! makaluto nga nito sa weekend. thanks!

  • Leslie Ann Marcelino

    Ms. Connie,

    my mom prepares this molo soup with the dumplings and molo wrappers cut like noodle strips. so all along alam ko talaga pansit molo sya because of that.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      How do you cut the dumplings into noodles? That’s ground meat… :)

      • Leslie Ann Marcelino

        yung molo wrappers lang po Ms. Connie, ang kina-cut ni Mommy into strips, not the dumplings.

      • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

        Ah ok.

        Leslie, I hope you’ve read Dan’s comment below which really makes more sense as to why pancit molo is so named. :)

        • evelyn

          Hi! I’ve already mixed the ingredients but wondered if an egg has to be added so the ingredients will stick together. Your previous recipe in Home Cooking Rocks had an egg in it.

          • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

            No, the fat in the ground meat will bind everything together.

  • Mik

    I always make mine from scratch because it brings back childhood memories of helping my mom in the kitchen! I once dumped a handful of baby spinach leaves after I turned the heat off, closed my eyes and pretended I was back home haha

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Spinach sounds gooooood!! :D

  • crisma

    Yum! Comfort food ito for me. Thanks Connie

    • dan

      when i first tasted pansit molo, i was expecting noodles.
      when i worked in indonesia i learned that their pangsit means wonton, did we got our pancit molo from the malays.

      • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

        Hmmmm… very interesting. The Indonesian pangsit kuah is wonton soup. :)

  • Ryan

    Authentic Pancit Molo doesnt have ginger in making the Molo balls and we usually put grated singkamas instead of carrots. Ilonggos are not fond of using ginger in soup dishes (except for those with seafoods), same with Lapaz Batchoy.

    Fried garlic (finely minced garlic slowly fried in oil) and broth made from pork bones (the back ribs) are my mom’s secret ingredients in making tasty Pancit Molo and Batchoy broth.

    • Connie

      You mean there is a singular universal standard to define a singular authentic pancit molo? Would you swear that you can speak for all Ilonggos?

      I’ve been to Iloilo. And, yes, I ate La Paz Batchoy there. And, yes, the broth was definitely made with ginger. So I’m not so sure about the percentage of the Ilonngos not fond of ginger.

  • uberdoog

    Hi, Connie! It might interest you to know that pancit in Indonesia means wonton, no different from that used in Pancit Molo. It’s a concept difficult for a Filipino to wrap his head around, considering we grew up thinking of pancit as noodle. Noodle here is “mie.” Pancit kuah is wonton soup like Pancit Molo. Pancit goreng is crispy fried wontons.

    • Connie

      Yah, Dan mentioned that too in a comment earlier. So much for the proprietary claims of the Ilonggos, eh? :-P

  • Joyce

    When I cooked this back home, I experimented on adding a pinch of 5-spice (ngo yong powder?) it. It gave me the taste that I was looking for.
    :D

  • Arlee

    Sounds really good. I’m thinking of making this on christmas day. Can i use to soy sauce instead of fish sauce? Thank you.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      If you’re ok with a dark soup, why not?

  • Babes

    Saraaaaap!!!!

  • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

    Shane, that depends on how large your molos are.

  • leng

    hi connie! this was great! i just made this for lunch and my husband loved it so much. i added shrimp btw =)

    you just really have to close the sides of the wrapper really well and try not to put a lot of filling kse sasabog talaga ang wrapper.

    thanks again connie! will try your pinsec frito too.

    regards!

  • Meg Abalos Mationg

    Hi Connie,
    May I know where you got your store bought (ready made) pansit molo dumplings?
    Thanks in advance :-)
    Meg

  • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

    Monterey. :)

  • Meg Abalos Mationg

    Thanks Connie! And a Happy mother’s day to you :-)

  • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

    Thanks, Meg. :)