Surf and Turf in Soup Form

OFTEN eclipsed by more popular soups, like tinola, sinigang and nilaga, Molo Soup or Pancit Molo is one of my favorites among local soups. I can’t think of any other local soup that mixes meats and seafood, as well as the carb component, in one dish. I come from a purely Tagalog family, Laguna on mom’s side and Bulacan on dad’s, so my love for Molo Soup is purely objective.

My version isn’t at all authentic. It’s more of a mixture of all the versions I’ve tried. As with any soup, Molo Soup comes right down to the broth. By using chicken bones together with aromatic vegetables and shrimp shells and heads, the resulting broth is both sweet and savory, with a hint of brininess. With the addition of chopped spring onions and fried garlic, the soup is made even more complex, as the fried garlic adds a layer of bittersweet to the equation.

As with any broth or stock, richness and depth is achieved by patiently searing and caramelizing each component, then deglazing the pot and lifting all the fond stuck at the bottom.

By taking all the necessary steps, you’ll end up with a potent broth which may need some diluting. By ending up with a flavorful base broth, you can easily adjust the taste just by adding water. The opposite is a more common occurrence, wherein we take a bland broth and season to taste.

The dumplings themselves take on an accompanying role to the broth. While the ground pork and chopped shrimps, as well as the pastry wrapper, provide the “meat” of the dish, it still takes a secondary role to the star—the soup. The fried garlic and spring onions should be sprinkled in sparingly at first, as they can change the flavor of the soup.

Enjoying a bowl of Molo Soup is a soothing and filling way to spend a rainy-night indoors. The “surf-and-turf” broth is also a revelation and would work with many other applications, especially as a noodle soup. Remember to sear and brown each component of the broth to draw out the maximum amount of flavor. Keep dry and enjoy.


Molo Soup

For the broth

  • 8 pcs chicken necks
  • 2 pcs chicken carcass
  • shrimp heads and shells
  • 1 large white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 pcs leeks
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorn
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste


For the dumplings

  • 1 pack Molo wrapper
  • 300g ground pork
  • 750g medium-white shrimps
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For garnish

  • Fried garlic
  • Chopped spring onions
  • 2 chicken breast fillets, cooked in the broth and flaked
  • 250g white shrimps, peeled and cooked in broth


1 In a heavy saucepot, heat cooking oil.

2 Remove skin from chicken necks and chop the necks into four. Chop chicken carcasses into smaller chunks, as well.

3 Fry chicken skins in oil, rendering the fat until skins are golden and crispy. Set aside.

4 Sear chicken neck pieces and bones in the oil until well browned.

5 Add onion, garlic, celery and leeks. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are golden brown but not too dark.

6 Add 1.5 liters of water and peppercorn and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.

7 In another pan, heat a tablespoon of oil and sauté shrimp heads and shells. With a wooden spoon, crush heads while sautéing, letting the juices fry and coagulate in the bottom of the pan.

8 Add two cups of water to the shrimp heads and shells and continue pressing and scraping. Simmer for three minutes.

9 Strain both the shrimp and chicken broths and combine both into one pot. Continue simmering on low and season to taste.

10 To make dumplings, place pork, shrimp, spring onions and a bit of salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is combined.

11 Wrap mixture, half a spoon at a time in Molo wrapper. To seal, wet edges of the pastry and press edges together to close.

12 To avoid air bubbles, press pastry from the center (filling), outward.

13 Drop dumplings in simmering broth and cook for about 10 minutes.

14 Sprinkle a spoon or two each of fried garlic and spring onions into the soup.

15 To serve, ladle soup and dumplings in a bowl. Chop fried chicken skin and sprinkle on top. Serve with additional fried garlic and spring onions on the side.


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