Pancit Bihon Guisado

I’m no expert in cooking but I love good food. Now it’s time to stay longer in the kitchen and see if the magic WOKS with me, one recipe at a time.

This is it, pancit! Isang taon na! (It’s one year already!)

I celebrated my first year of stay in Switzerland by simply cooking pancit last Saturday. Next to rice, pancit is another big star on the Filipino dining table. In every celebration, pancit is a must. It goes with a lot of varieties, but the most common of all, which I cooked for myself is what we called pancit bihon guisado.

Pancit (or pansit) is a Filipino term for noodles in Filipino cuisine. The Chinese introduced noodles into the Philippines and it has been adopted into a local cuisine since then. There’s also a food lore handed down from the Chinese, that noodles should be eaten on one’s birthday because noodles represent long life and good health. In my case I don’t only wish the same for myself, but also for a much longer, much enjoyable stay. Though it wasn’t my birthday yet, that must have been the other reason why I served pansit to celebrate!

I wasn’t alone in making the verdict this time around. That night I’ve got a family of three to feed; and the couple who shared the dish with me are not definitely new to cooking. As a neophyte, I was at their mercy. What’s even more perplexing, it is my first time to cook this fancy dish.  I could have felt more relaxed when I learned that the term pancit in Hokkien language (pian i sit) means “something conveniently cooked fast,” but it didn’t turn out that easy for me. Wawa (Poor me).

Happy first year to me, happy first year to me…I did cook pancit but what a nice way to cap off the dinner night with delicious slices of cheese! One of the few Swiss dining experiences I enjoy now is eating some cheese after meals. Swiss cheeses (and French too) are OH, so yummy!

I also didn’t find the recipe I got over the Internet that helpful. I was in a rush that day I didn’t bother to check if this recipe is a good one or not. I didn’t entirely follow it in the end. I went on to cook the kind of pancit I’m more familiar with.

This is soooo wrong! LOL

Filipino Pancit

Original Recipe Yield 4 servings

Ingredients
1 (6.75 ounce) package rice noodles
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups cooked small shrimp, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked pork
4 cups shredded bok choy
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 green onion, minced

Directions
1.Soak the rice noodles in warm water for 20 minutes; drain.
2.Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a wok or large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Saute noodles for 1 minute. Transfer to serving dish, and keep warm. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet, and saute onion, garlic, ginger, shrimp and pork for 1 minute. Stir in bok choy, oyster sauce and chicken broth. Season with pepper flakes. Cover, and cook for 1 minute, or until bok choy is wilted. Spoon over noodles, and garnish with minced green onion.

I bought rice noodles, white shrimps, a cabbage, carrots, string beans and shitake mushrooms.

My female pal helped me out. She also taught me an easier way to cut a cabbage. Oh please don’t ask me how I was supposed to do it! LOL

First off, I sauteed the shrimps with peanut oil, garlic and onions. I simmered a glass (or two) of water with the shrimps to create a broth. I set them aside and cooked the veggies after that. Sauteeing is chicken (a rather different but peculiar way to say “something is very easy to accomplish,” welcome to the Philippine English!).

I liked the way I cooked the mushrooms and the veggies. The mushrooms were tasty, thanks to fried garlic and onions, and oyster sauce. And the veggies were cooked just right, crispy!

For a people of three (four, plus me), yes, I bought a kilo and a half of vermicelli, and I cooked them all. I belittled these 500g noodle packets, which I thought, would be just enough for us four and that these noodles would shrink anyway. I was wrong. By the time I soaked the rice noodles in lukewarm water, it suddenly occurred to me that I was seemingly cooking for an army. Ohlala. It’s too late, the noodles were already soaking wet.

I’m sorry, so sorry. Please accept my apologies. I still can’t get over you, Brenda Lee!

The real wok battle started when I had to cook the noodles. I had to stir the noodles constantly until it is cooked, and while doing this, the noodles got heavier and heavier it’s becoming a painstaking task. As I was whining a bit, I told my female pal, “So this is how you got your slender biceps eh?” I received her usual chuckles after telling her that.

My friend’s Swiss-German husband overheard me saying, “One lesson learned, hindi na ako magluluto ng pansit!” With a wide grin on his face, he reiterated in English what I just said, “Oh, so you don’t want to cook pansit anymore!” What a surprise I got.

  I give myself 3 bowls out of 5.  Yeah, yeah, I might be a bit too hard on myself. I was singing ala Katy Perry, “I cooked pancit and they liked it!” when I got good responses from my judges that night. And I agree with them, my pancit really tasted pretty good! Well, I still feel that it could have been better if I was able to:

  • manage the proportions well. I admit, this isn’t the only incident. I should learn my lesson well na?;
  • make chicken broth even if the only meat used are shrimps;
  • add chopped green onions, calamansi (Philippine’s citrus fruit), and chicharon (pork rinds), they can do some magic on the pancit;
  • use tiger prawns, not white shrimps. I didn’t like the meat texture of the white shrimps. Sorry, I was also scrimping a bit; and
  • add more vegetable ingredients like bok choy, brocolli, celery, snow peas, bean sprouts.
Another big lesson learned: Order na lang ng isang bilao sa panciteria. (I’ll order a big winnow of it at the pancit store instead.) Well, still, maybe not!

Read this interesting article entitled Republic of Pancit from pcij.org. There’s really more to say about this popular Pinoy dish than meets your fork and palate.

Pancit as leftovers don’t last that long. I brought a plate for my lunch last Monday morning and perhaps due to warm weather, I wasn’t able to eat it. Luckily, we got guests at home in the afternoon and we almost finished that big wok of pancit. Whew, at last!
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