Pancit is perhaps amongst the easiest Filipino dishes that I can cook while living here in Europe for several years now. For one, it’s very easy to find noodles of different kinds – vermicelli noodles in particular – in most Asian grocery stores.
Pancit is a very traditional and popular cuisine found in the majority of Filipino restaurants, and certainly at dinner tables of Filipinos everywhere. Filipina mothers would whip up pancit for family gatherings.
Most especially during birthday celebrations, it has to be sure that the pancit noodles are kept long; for it’s been superstitiously believed that it represents a long life and good health. In most Chinese restaurants in the Philippines, they often have “birthday noodles” as part of their special menus.
So whenever I attempt to buy my key ingredient and later find the pancit rack empty, I’d be quick to conclude that a big Filipino gathering is on the way to celebrate their birthdays.
This is it, pancit!
The term pancit is actually derived from Hokkien Chinese word, pian i sit (便ê食; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: piān-ê-si̍t or Chinese: 便食; pinyin: biàn shí). So obviously, it’s the Chinese who introduced noodles to us and since then we have adopted these into our local cuisine. With over 30 variations of pancit available all over the country, you’ll also never run out of finding these panciterias or shops specializing in noodles.
Interestingly, like rice, we Filipinos can eat pancit at any time of the day. We can chow it down for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Like me, most would eat pancit as it is, but for others, they would even mix it with rice, or with some leftover dish, or simply with dried fish and pickles (I wouldn’t go that far though).
Whether you call it tradition or superstition, as I celebrate my birthday it’s quite expected that I’ll serve some pancit again. So in this series, it’s my pleasure to share with you these pancit recipes that I’m sure you’ll like!
First off, it’s pancit bihon.
What’s with bihon?
Pancit bihon is typically associated with pancit. So if somebody offers you a pancit, you’d think of bihon first. With very thin rice noodles, it is usually accompanied by fried meat slices, chopped fresh vegetables, soy sauce (and possibly with patis or fish sauce), and definitely Chinese sausage and cabbage.
Thanks perhaps to Indonesian’s influence, I was able to find another Asian variation of pancit bihon in Belgium (and in The Netherlands most likely). I don’t find any huge difference between Indonesian’s mihoen goreng and ours, so serving pancit bihon with my Belgian folks wouldn’t be a difficult feat.
- 1 (8 ounces) package rice noodles
- 1/2 pound boneless chicken breast or thigh meat, diced
- 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 package (16 ounces) pork hamonado or Chinese chorizo, sliced thinly in a bias
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced thinly in a bias
- 1 small cabbage, chopped
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 2 stalks celery, sliced thinly in a bias
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 to 5 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- cooking oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- green onions, chopped
- calamansi or lemon, cut into wedges
- In a large pot over medium heat, combine chicken stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Submerge noodles into the liquid and cook, using tongs to loosen strands, for about 1 to 2 minutes or just until softened. Drain noodles and reserve about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of liquid.
- In a wide skillet or work over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon oil. Add shrimp and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until color changes to pink. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Wipe down wok or skillet and add more oil as needed.
- Add onions and garlic and cook until limp and aromatic. Add chicken and cook, stirring regularly, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add pork hamonado and cook, stirring regularly, until they start to brown. Add carrots and celery and cook for about 30 to 40 seconds. Add cabbage. Return shrimp to wok. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender yet crisp.
- Add noodles. Add reserved liquid in 1/2 cup increments. Gently toss and stir, adding more liquid as needed, until noodles are cooked yet firm to bite and liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve hot with calamansi.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
Do you have your own version of pancit bihon? Share your recipe too!