This is probably the one Filipino dish most recognized around the world. You just can’t escape it at birthdays. It’s traditional to serve pancit on someone’s birthday because noodles represents a wish for the celebrant’s long life. It then follows that if you do cook noodles on a birthday, you don’t cut the noodles.
This pancit I cooked was like a fried rice with ingredients that were mainly scraps from my refrigerator. It’s about that time of the week when I have to do my grocery shopping again you see…
There are different noodles we like using in the Philippines. Among the more common ones are: bihon or thin rice noodles; Canton which is a pre-fried wheat noodle; sotanghon, a bean thread noodle; mami which are egg noodles usually used for soups. The meats that are used to flavor these noodle dishes are always cut in thin strips, as are the vegetables. My mother used to tell us this was a way of maintaining uniformity in a dish. So if she was cooking a beef dish with chunks of beef, the vegetables that came with it would be similarly cut. I’m not sure if this is a peculiarity of my mother or just the way things were done in the old days…
There are different ways of cooking noodles. Some like it one way or another…there are no strict rules. This one I made is a mix of 2 noodles, Canton and bihon. This pancit has no soy sauce which is pretty uncommon. I had a pancit bihon like this years ago when some offficemates were invited to spend the day with the Escudero family in Tiaong, Quezon and I tagged along. The Escudero matriarch said she liked her pancit this way, just flavored with fish sauce. It did go perfectly with the adobo and I marveled at the beautiful colors of the vegetables against the white bihon noodles. This is my version of that pancit.
Pancit Canton-Bihon Guisado
3-4 tbsps. vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves mashed
1 medium white onion, minced
4 chicken thighs, boiled and sliced in thin strips
1/4 c. ham, sliced in thin strips
3 tbsps. fish sauce
1 c. homemade, low-salt chicken broth
1 c. shredded savoy cabbage
1 large carrot, cut in thin matchsticks
1/2 c. green beans, cut in thin strips on the diagonal
1- 8 oz. package Pancit Canton noodles
2 oz. (1/4 package) special bihon noodles (rinse in hot water, then strain)
2 celery sticks, sliced thin on the diagonal
3-4 green onion leaves, sliced thin on the diagonal
salt and pepper to taste
Heat your oil in a big kawali or wok over high heat. Add the garlic and stir till almost brown. Add the onions and cook until translucent, the garlic should be a deep brown by then. Add the chicken and ham, cooking it for about 3 minutes. Add fish sauce and stir. Cook until brown bits form at the bottom and everything sizzles.
Now add the carrots, the green beans and the cabbage. Stir fry a minute or two. Add the broth. When it comes to a boil, add the noodles and stir fry until cooked to your preference. If it gets too dry, add hot water as you stir. (It’s drier where I am, so more than a cup of broth was required)
Add the celery and green onions and turn off heat. Stir and adjust seasonings. I like my celery quite crisp and didn’t let it wilt. You can continue cooking until the celery is cooked the way you want.
I topped the pancit with shrimps I cooked gambas-style. It’s really gratuitous shrimp that all goes to Spouse…very nice touch he said.
I’ve also had pancit with fried garlic on top, that was good. One time, someone topped it with sliced scrambled eggs, pretty much like fried rice….the cook was of Chinese descent and cooked her pancit very much like fried rice. And there was a pancit that had crushed chicharon for a topping…that was good too. The topping is not required though.