Pancit Molo a la Marketman


Almost all forms of pancit in the Philippines probably trace their origins back to chinese influences, either borne out of ancient bartering or trading, or due to chinese nationals who eventually settled on the Philippine archipelago. According to this article by Henry Funtecha in The News Today, pancit molo probably takes its name from the town/port of Molo, where chinese traders have been coming and settling since as early as the 10th century or so. In the 1930’s, the town of Molo was incorporated into Iloilo City. My sister does an excellent pancit molo, and I know that I have her recipe somewhere in my files, but I couldn’t find it yesterday when I decided to make pancit molo for the first time by myself…


First, I made the broth. I had some ham bones around and boiled them up for about 1.5 hours and also added some chicken bones that I had around, hence, a ham and chicken broth as the base soup. Yum already. Next, I made the filling for the wonton wrappers. I used minced or ground pork, chopped up ham, chopped up shrimp, salt and pepper, chopped kinchay or chinese celery, chopped onion, and one egg and smushed that all together to make a wettish filling. I then put a little bit of filling in a wonton wrapper and sealed it with some egg white. Into the broth, I added shredded chicken meat, julienned pieces of ham, and several whole small shrimp. I added the stuffed molos (a LOT of them) and let that cook for a few minutes. I also added some seasoning and some chopped green onion and it was ready to serve. For a first time attempt without a recipe, it was VERY GOOD, in my opinion. But I immediately noticed something missing. And I think it is garlic. Either into the broth or semi fried and floating in the soup. Some pancit molos I have enjoyed have been overly heavy on the garlic, but in retrospect, I think I should have put some into my version… that would have made it excellent.


At the table, we also experimented by adding some patis and some kalamansi to the soup, and both were nice additions as well. Overall, the soft silky wonton wrappers with the meat and shrimp filling were the nuggets of substance in the soup, but the broth was the real delight. This is DIET food in our home, particularly since I only had two bowls of molo, and no rice or other dishes for an evening meal… Hahaha. If you are privy to more “authentic” pancit molo preparations, I would love to hear about them… I realize mine could be quite removed from the real magilla…


48 Responses

  1. This is one of my favorite soups although I have never made it myself…the best I have ever tasted (and maybe just maybe I’m totally biased) is my grandmother’s :) I will get the recipe from her so I can finally make my own!

  2. my kids love pancit molo soup. we add chopped water chestnuts to the filling to add a slightly crunchy texture to the molo. give it a try next time.

  3. mmm… namit gid ni… this is my comfort food… this and batchoy…. imagine eating this piping hot with buttered toast on the side, just after you have taken a bath and there’s rain outside… mmmmm

  4. There was an old lady in Negros named Emma Lacson. She was known to make the best lumpia ubod, pionono (jelly rolls), angel cake, empanada and panara (which are still sold up to this day). Her goods were sold by a man who went around town with a giant bila-o on his head. Everyone knew him. My mother used to order her famous pancit molo which was like no other. Her wrappers were homemade with native (fertilized) eggs which gave it a deeper yellow color and the broth was of local chickens too. The flavors were deep and like no other. Everything seemed to have been made of real ingredients.Please, no calamansi and water chestnuts please. This has got to be one of the most delicious local soup dishes. Yummy!!!!!!!!

  5. Doreen Fernandez mentioned this enterprising lady who introduced and supplied pancit molo to Manila’s in-crowd in the fifties and I must have caught the very tail-end of the craze as a very young boy. Replicating it in my town at that time was difficult in the absence of ready made wrappers. Mother ordered them in from Manila or commissioned them locally from a Macau cook. It seemed like a refined and upmarket albondegas wrapped a certain way (not unlike tortellini) that requires patience and dexterity that I both barely have . The crucial fillip on ours is the addition of crushed fermented tofu (tahure, taufuru).

  6. my favorite, 2nd to lapaz batchoy…the molo soup has less ingredients than MM’s..i think the soup-base is chicken or beef…and yes, fried garlic is a must. that is wonton soup in chinatown, but i still love the iloilo’s better. i grew up on that, after all.

  7. Pretty close, not bad without a recipe. Add a tbsp. of cornstarch to bind the filling. Seal with a flour and water paste. If you want your stock to remain clear cook the wontons in a separate pot of simmering water for one min. to remove any superflous flour and then transfer to your stock. You can also add beaten egg at the end for threads. Add a little sliced fried garlic and chives before serving.

  8. An elderly lady, Mrs. C, who was born, raised, and lived almost all her life in Molo, Iloilo City taught me her “secret” recipe for “authentic Pancit Molo” long ago, and I am happy to share it with you and your readers.

    For the broth, use pork and chicken bones. In the same broth, boil chicken meat which you will later cool and shred and set aside. In a different pot, blanch shrimps, then peel and set aside. Using the same liquid used to blanch the shrimps, boil shrimp heads which should have been collected from peeling the shrimps. In the “olden days”, I was told they mashed the shrimp heads in the liquid then strained it to get a somewhat clear broth free from shrimp-head peel. In our “modern times” you can just put the cooked shrimp heads with a little liquid into a food processor and whirr away. Just the same, you have to strain this liquid, and add to the main broth used for boiling pork and chicken bones.

    Finely chop lots of garlic, divide into two portions. The first portion will go into the Molo filling, which includes ground pork, crumbled taure (fermented soy beans, a bit saltish, similar texture to blue cheese), salt, pepper, an egg or two as binder, and a little soy sauce. Mix everything, you can fry a teaspoonful to test for seasoning, but do not over mix or the filling can get tough. (Mrs. C shook her head violently at other filling versions that included carrots, raisins, ham, chestnuts, or anything that was not in her list. She insisted on sticking to the “original” recipe.)

    To wrap, use a square Molo wrapper. Position the wrapper similar to the “diamond” in playing cards. Put a small amount of filling in the corner nearest yourself (the bottom corner), but not too close to the edge. Fold the bottom corner over the filling so that it covers the filling, then fold the two side corners, one over the other, with the two side corners almost meeting the topmost corner. (Sorry, I know this sounds complicated, maybe I should take photos the next time I make Pancit Molo.) Mrs. C said the Molo balls should look like “ulo sang madre”, or maybe she meant a nun’s “hat”.

    Sauté finely chopped garlic and onions, add shredded cooked chicken meat and peeled shrimps. Pour in the broth (flavored with pork bones, chicken bones, and shrimp head). Bring to boil, add the Molo balls, season to taste. Mrs. C said the balls are cooked when they float. Top with chopped chives, and more toasted garlic, if you like.

    Personally, I like Pancit Molo the day after, as the flavor is more intense. But it is also delicious served straight away. I’ve tried many versions, but I must say Mrs. C’s was the best ever.

  9. Thnks sister. That was exactly my concern, how to keep the broth clear so it doesn’t appear to be a very thick soup. Do I take it that the commercial wonton wrappers found in supermarkets are good enough to make an excellent molo soup? No need to start from scratch?

  10. I make my pancit Molo similar to how Tuesdayy does it.
    I think the wrapper is better if made from scratch. In the old days, it was my mother’s second cousin, Nanay Rita, who makes the wrapper from flour and native eggs. I find the commercial wrappers quite thick.

    Also, the only spices used were white or black pepper,lots of garlic, and a type of green onions that are more flat with no central cavity.

    The broth is more flavorful the day after.

  11. the commercial wonton wrappers will do MM. just don’t overboil, keep the broth simmering or the wrappers will break up.

    by the way, try dropping bits of soda crackers into your soupbowl just before eating. the extra crunch is nice addition in terms of texture.

  12. I make this during the Christmas Holidays every year. Either for Christmas dinner/lunch or New Year dinner/lunch. In my family, there are three versions, the Z version, the E version and the G version. The letters stand for the first letter of each family’s last name. Each family makes it and we’re always trying to see whose tastes best. A Pancit Molo throwdown, if you will. However, since we never have any objective, independent and non-partisan judges at the dinners, no one really knows whose won.

  13. Tuesdavy, copied and pasted your comment/authentic recipe for testing because it is closest to how I remember it made. In company though, I do Sister’s separate cooking technique to a lot of Filipino dishes I serve to avoid overcooking, muddied flavors and messy presentation. I think whole unmushy dumplings in clear broth and fresh garnishing definitely appeals to me more than full flavored but porridgelike consistency.

  14. I just read Tuedayy’s comment. This is the first recipe I have seen that utilizes “taure” – which a secret ingredient in the E version of our Pancit Molo. Hmmmm… I guess it really hasn’t been much of a secret.

  15. Apicio, some folks leave the uncooked pancit molo balls to dry for an hour or two before cooking, some even leave them in the chiller overnight (covered with clingwrap) to firm them up a bit and also to intensify the flavor. I guess that’s why there is quite a bit of garlic in the balls, garlic being some kind of preservative. You can make the broth a day or more ahead, freeze, then reheat and just add the Molo balls shortly before serving, maybe that method will intensify the flavor of the broth without sacrificing the texture of the balls. Some versions also add “achuete” to the broth for a golden glow.

    ntgerald, the kind of “green onions” that you are referring to, that is exactly what I meant, we call that “kuchay” in Iloggo. :-) Now I know it is chives in English. It’s also quite garlicky, maybe that’s the flavor MM remembers?

    Incidentally MM, the wife of Henry Funtecha was my Social Science teacher in college. If you ever swing by Iloilo, try the Pancit Molo in the eatery right beside San Jose Church in Plaza Libertad, I think it’s the closest to homemade pancit Molo you can get, unless you go there in July during the fiesta in Molo.

    I just love this blog, people are so interactive, helpful, generous and intelligent! Kudos to MM!

  16. I must admit, Iloilo owns the best tasting and authentic Pancit Molo and Lapaz Batchoy recipe, hands down! If you ever visit Iloilo, don’t miss to try out these gems. It has been years since I’ve visited, but the amazing taste still lingers.

  17. Last time I had Pancit Molo was waaaaayyyyy back when!!! I must try Tuesdayy’s Pancit Molo!!!…never had it with Tahure too. For a much clearer broth too, blanch the bones (pork/chicken) first in boiling water. Remove, rinse the bones and the pot as well. Start with cold water, add the bones, aromatics and bring to a gentle boil and SIMMER only. Do not keep on stirring while it is simmering. Your broth will be like consomme! Yup, Sister’s way too will ensure the clear broth on your bowl!!!

    I do agree that the right wrapper plays a role! There is a place here in Vancouver Chinatown that sells the really YELLOW wonton wrapper. You will not find it ladies in the grocery shelves. I discovered it one day in my search for the yellow wonton wrapper for my PRAWN WONTONS. I wanted something that is pliable, will not fall apart like the commercially made ones. They do not put the wrapper on the display case. One has to ask for it and call in advance, so they will set it aside for you! They make it themselves. It’s pretty reasonable, too…1 pound of those wrappers sells for $2.40 (more or less) and there’s about 150 wrappers in a pound I think!…could be more wrappers…

  18.’s pancit molo time here now, with the weather getting colder..tuesdayy, i make my wonton’s like nun’s heads, too. i also remember, some people dry the wonton’s under the sun for a while…yikes, henry funtecha and family used to live next door to us in CPU…her wife was also my teacher in grade school..time to make the molos and freeze them in batches..very convenient for those cold days. i also freeze the broth in batches..

  19. Yellow, thin, wonton wrappers are available in Vietnamese groceries. Or you could make some with the help of a pasta machine to roll them out very thinly.

  20. Thank you all for those recipes and tips. I haven’t tried cooking Pansit Molo myself, but now I think I can. And yeah, we got alot of Vietnamese market here, I will sure try to look for those yellow wrappers, because I too don’t want thick wrappers, it is just too chewy for me.

  21. Ebba: If you can’t find it in the Vietnamese stores, go to your Chinatown …any of those dim sum places that sells frozen dimsum made in-house would sell them. Just ask for them…yellow wonton wrappers with egg!

  22. Tuesdayy, FANTASTIC!!! Thank you so much. As I was making the soup, I looked at the shrimp shells and heads and said to myself, a good cook would be using these as well, and instinctively I wondered about the garlic once I tasted my broth… so now I know the taste I was looking for was a bit of the crushed shrimp head juice and a little bit of garlic. Personally, I find some commercial versions of this fabulous soup overdo the shrimp and garlic, but now I know to accent the taste with these two ingredients. As for the shape of the molo, thank you, I would never have known that unless someone told me… I will do that the next time I make it as well. I didn’t put it in the post, but my sealed molo were placed in the fridge for nearly 4 hours to dry them out… this was inadvertent, I was just prepping ahead… and all of the other suggestions up here are wonderful! Thank you all. Sister, will definitely cook the molo separately as I like the distinct separation between broth and the dumplings, and the commercially sold molo wrappers here have a lot of extra flour… of course, I could try to make the wrapper from scratch…but maybe not. :) Again, thank you all for unraleving the mystery of a proper pancit molo…

  23. if in Iloilo–there’s this barangay captain in Molo district who makes the most fantastic pancit molo dish–but you have to buy in bulk-they call it a laton(the 6(?) gallon metal container of cooking oil) or half a laton..MM if you are in Iloilo -I will order half a laton as a treat!

  24. britelite, now I understand how you were able to recognize the “authenticity” of Mrs. C’s recipe, kasimanwa ka gali, hehehe..

    lee, manamit gid kun mainit!

    MM and everybody else, you are all very welcome. I’ve always been on the receiving end of a lot of cooking tips, suggestions, and useful information from this blog, am just glad to be able to make a small contribution for once.

  25. sister, wonderful tip there, thanks! i’ve always wondered about the broth getting all cloudy after i added the dumplings. tuesdayy, i thought all the while the tahure was in the broth, not in the dumplings! thanks for all the tips.

    pancit molo is my absolute number one confort food, hands-down. and yes, i make this with some achuete for a rich, golden color (i do the same thing with my sotanghon soup), and add a sprinkling of sliced scallions and fried garlic bits, and lots of black pepper.

  26. its been almost 2 years since i have cooked pancit molo. have to pass by rustans this afternoon to buy some ham bones and try Tuesdayy’s version this weekend. I just hope its still raining on the weekend para kumpleto ang ambulance, este, ambiance pala. nothing can beat a piping hot molo soup on a lazy rainy weekend!

  27. It sounds like a mantra by now but please make a decent chicken stock first, before shrimp juice, etc. Some cooks also use a clear pork broth as well. Ham should be Chinese or Smithfield. All of the above add to the complexity of the broth.
    Blanched dumplings should be added to the broth just a few minutes before serving.
    ntgerald, you must be referring to garlic chives, available in farmers and oriental markets. Excellent addition to Molo, more delicate flavour than scallions.

  28. The weather here in CA is still way too hot for pancit molo or any kind of piping hot soup. Can’t wait for cooler weather to try this out.

  29. i love making and eating pansit molo. good pansit molo tastes like you slaved half a day making it but i think its pretty simple to make. i make huge batches of it on some sundays. we have it for lunch and whatever is left over is slowly attacked throughout the afternoon and evening so that when you finally clean up the kitchen for the night, ubos na lahat.

    i’ve made a shortcut version before. throw a cube of maggi chicken bouillon into boiling water them dump some store-bought dumplings into it. salt, pepper, patis as needed (or wanted). throw in some store-bought fried garlic and chop up some green onions if you want it fancier. a lot of people would probably cringe at the idea. but there you go.

  30. Pancit molo is a staple in our home. More of a comfort food we have every week. Mom make a lot of molo dumplings and stores it in the freezer. Her broth is rich and made from chicken and pork bones. She adds a little atsuete though, thus making the broth an orange hue. She stores the broth in separate containers in the freezer. We just heat the broth and dump the dumplings and voila — pancit molo on the go. She also prepares a lot of minced garlic and fries it really well. We just add it on our soup just before eating.

  31. Oh wow, one of the joys of the Christmas season is a meal with molo soup that my Lola orders from one of our relatives. I just can’t remember which one but it has been standard Christmas lunch fare for as long as I can remember. Must now ask my Dad. ;)

  32. Pancit Molo is my all time favorite soup! My aunt makes the best pancit molo I’ve ever tasted and I always make it a point to come hungry at her parties. I remember that making the soup was a whole day affair. We would make the wontons in the morning and dry them on newspapers together with the cut up wonton wrappers. Garlic is definitely a key ingredient of the soup. Thanks for featuring this dish. I have not had it in more than 3 years and I’m definitely missing it.

  33. Tuesdayy, did you mean something looking like this? I was trying to picture your description and I thought I saw that somewhere (remembered it was from Heidi of 101cookbooks).

    I’ve never done molo this way, if this is what you mean! Neat idea!! Cutie!

  34. sometime_lurker, got a look at the link, thanks! They are not quite what I meant, but very similar, just a few folds apart. I’m going to take photos of the procedure I described. (MM, can I email you the pics when they are ready? What is your email addy, please? Thanks!)

  35. Knittymommy, I thought the tradition of having pancit molo for Christmas was unique to our family (hehe..selfish thought)..anyway, thanks Tuesdayy for that molo recipe!! I now have a new version to serve this coming Christmas season..

  36. Hi,

    May I know the address of the Barangay Captain in Molo who sells Pancit Molo mentioned in britelite comment?



  37. i grew up in molo,iloilo and pancit molo is definitely a must in every gathering. we even used to have a “pancit molohan” where we serve a bowl of pancit molo for about 25 pesos. the fun part in cooking pancit molo is during fiestas where we have to cook a gazillion pots of pancit molo to feed the guests. we would make the molo heads overnight, and i am proud to say that i can make the perfect “ulo sang madre”. Tuesdayy’s recipe is by far the closest i recipe that i was used to. homemade wrapper would be best since the fresh flour and eggs also gives flavor to the soup. the only difference is that we would mash the garlic that goes into the balls and also add the onion leaves into it.

  38. Unlike batchoy, pancit molo is still best home made plus the fact that there is no single restaurant in Iloilo that can claim to have the best tasting or the original recipe. I still am on my quest for the best “commercial” one …

    Kusay and taure plus chopped garlic are the main “secondary” ingredients in making those pancit molo balls.

  39. hi everyone! i want to make tuesdayy’s pancit molo. what is taure in english? i’m in NY and i dont know what to look for in the asian grocery. is white miso paste a good substitute?



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