If you ever attend a Filipino get-together one of the dishes you can count on being served is pancit. This is the Filipino word for noodles and there are several ways they can be prepared. Pancit bihon or pancit guisado (as it’s referred to in my family) is one of the easiest preparations. As its name suggests (guisado means sautéed and bihon is the type of noodle used) pancit guisado is simply a mixture of sautéed vegetables, meat and noodles that are tossed together. But as basic as it sounds, pancit is a favorite among many Filipinos. It never fails to satisfy…it’s comfort food.
I don’t cook a lot of Filipino food (I only know how to prepare the dishes in family-size portions; too much for a household of 2) but when I do it’s because the cravings are really strong. I cooked a batch of pancit bihon this afternoon and even though I served broiled seabass and stir-fried vegetables for dinner, the noodles are all I wanted to eat. It’s always the case when this type of fare is available–I can’t ever get enough. But who’s complaining? Certainly not me. This is my kind of good eats.
- I prefer chicken in my pancit but others use ground meat, pork and/or shrimp.
- I like my version loaded with veggies but feel free to use the smaller quantities indicated in the recipe below.
- You can soak the noodles in water but I do what my mother does and I soak in stock to allow the noodles to absorb more flavor.
- I like to poach the chicken but you can save a few steps by cutting the chicken breast in bite-size pieces and cooking them before you add the vegetables to the pan.
- Chinese sausage is completely optional here but I happened to have some available and it does add another layer of flavor to the dish.
- To save even another step, you can add the stock to the vegetables after they’re cooked, then the soy sauce then the noodles. The noodles will soften as they sit in the liquid but I like to take the extra step of soaking the noodles in the stock separately to keep the vegetables from getting too limp. Your choice.
- It’s no accident that I have a lot of lemons surrounding my bowl of noodles–freshly squeezed lemon (or calamansi) juice is a must for pancit.
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly in 1 - 1½ inch pieces
- 4-6 ribs celery, sliced thinly on a diagonal
- ⅓ - ½ cabbage, sliced thinly
- 4 Baby bok choy (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ chicken breast, poached in the stock
- 3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
- 1-2 pieces Chinese sausage (optional), if using, slice thinly and microwave for 45 seconds until crisp around the edges then set aside
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
- 2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 8-ounce package bihon noodles (rice stick noodles)
- Lemon wedges and additional fish sauce or soy sauce for garnish
- Ground white or black pepper for garnish
- To prepare the chicken, bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it comes to a boil, add the chicken breast to the stock, reduce heat to a simmer and poach the chicken until cooked through, about 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. Remove the cooked chicken breast from the stock (save the stock) and allow it to cool a few minutes before shredding. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, under a minute. Then add all the vegetables and stir-fry over high heat for 3-4 minutes until crisp-tender. Turn off the heat, remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.
- Transfer the stock to the same pan that you cooked the vegetables in. Add the rice noodles and soak them in the stock for 5-6 minutes, until they're soft. After this time there will be some liquid left in the pan. Turn the heat on to medium-high. Add the soy sauce (and fish sauce if using), vegetables and chinese sausage (if using) and toss for a minute or two making sure all the components are combined. Don't worry if the noodles look a bit wet. They will absorb all the remaining liquid in a matter or minutes. Plate and serve warm with lemon wedges and additional soy or fish sauce.