Chicken Inasal and Pancit Molo
I first fell in love with inasal and pancit Molo when I studied in Iloilo City, visiting Bacolod during semestral breaks. These two are on the top of my list, though there are still a number of dishes I also love like La Paz bachoy, kansi (Ilonggo version of bulalo), KBL (kadios, baboy, langka), ubod sang saging with mongo and native chicken to mention a few. My ancestors were from Western Visayas and the food is quite familiar to me before I came there. I heard about inasal when I was a kid, as it is a Hiligaynon term for grilling, but not with pancit Molo. The first time I saw pancit Molo, the initial reaction was, “Ay, daw indi man ini pansit.” (Oh, it doesn’t look like pansit at all.)
So how did the names of these mouth-watering dishes came about?
Bacolod Chicken Inasal has it posted in their resto the explanation how the word inasal was derived. The word “asal” is the Filipinized Spanish word “asar,” which means roasted. The Spaniards thought that this delicious dish was roasted rather than grilled. The natives at that time borrowed the word but could not pronounce the heavily accented R, hence the new word asal. Its derivatives are as follows: asalon, to grill; gin-asal, grilled (verb); inasal, grilled (noun); gina-asal, grilling.
A lot of people mostly associate inasal with chicken. Little do they know that pork could also be prepared the same way. But inasal is usually not applicable with seafood. The word sugba is the most appropriate like sinugba nga isda (grilled fish), sinugba nga lokus (grilled squid) and others.
If you want to taste an authentic homemade chicken inasal, a branch of Aida’s, one of Bacolod’s tastiest, is located at the lower ground floor of Makati Cinema Square along Pasong Tamo.
“Where’s the pansit (noodles)?” This is the usual question when one is served with pancit Molo because it is rather strange as it is more of a soup than the usual pansit that is guisado (sauteed). I also had the same impression when I had it the first time in Iloilo City. However, the one that was served to me has a lot of flat noodles that are more or less 2 centimeters wide with whitish soup and wonton balls. It was soooo good since it was homemade!
How its name came about is historical.
Molo, formerly known as Parian, is a Chinese village before the Spaniards came. Shifting of its name could be attributed to the Moro raids during those times. There’s this story in the early days that when pirates were nearing the shore, Chinese traders would yell, “Molo! Molo! Molo!” (as opposed to Moro since they could not pronounce the “R”) to warn everyone of an impending raid. From then on, the village is called Molo. I don’t know if this is a joke or not, but definitely it makes sense somehow.
Should there have been no Moro raids that time, would have it been named pancit Parian as opposed to pancit Molo?