Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Filipino Pancit Bihon (Thin Rice Noodles with Soy Sauce)

It there is one noodle dish Filipinos can easily be associated with it is, no doubt, Pancit Bihon. It is so common that probably second in popularity to rice in the Philippines. You will find it in every restaurant, cafeteria, canteen, small eateries and in everyone’s dining table during birthday celebrations, family occasions or even simple gatherings. While it is actually a snack meal (“merienda”), Filipinos eat them with practically anything: rice, sliced bread, rice cake (“puto”), spring rolls (“lumpia”), steamed buns (“siopao”), pork barbeque and a lot more. It goes very well with another Filipino favourite Pan de Sal (“pandesal”) (Filipino bread roll) for breakfast.

Pancit Bihon or normally just called "Pancit” or “Pansit” is of Chinese origin. This food is similar to Japanese-style-fried noodles yakisoba. The noodles called Bihon (sometimes spelled Bijon) is a very thin noodles made from rice. It is stir fried with soy sauce, some variation of sliced meat (or sometimes shrimp), chopped vegetables and splattered with calamansi or lemon juice before eating. The exact composition depends on someone's recipe and available ingredients but usually, chicken or pork meat, meat balls (“bola-bola”), cabbage and carrots are the common.

For this preparation we shall need ½ kl bihon noodles and about 300 grams chicken (or pork). It is important that you use a good quality bihon. My mom cook this excellently but only if she will be the one to buy the bihon or at least buy her favourite type. Sometimes the method that works best for a certain brand of bihon does work well in another. Mastery of the dish can be attained if constantly using a particular brand you are satisfied with.

You have to soak the noodles in water for about 5 minutes to soften and boil the chicken (or pork) in slightly salted water until tender. A good pancit starts with a good broth so I usually add crushed garlic, bay leaf, quartered onion, peeled carrot, whole pepper corn and some celery in boiling the meat. I find the tendered meat even tastier and the resulting broth exquisitely good. But you are free to just use water instead. My mom does it.

The other ingredients are 3 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tbsp garlic, crushed and minced, 1 onion, peeled and sliced, ½ cup leeks, sliced diagonally, 1 pc carrot, julienned, ½ cabbage, sliced into strips, ¼ to ½ cup soy sauce, about 6 cups of chicken broth (use in boiling the meat), 1 tsp ground pepper, salt to taste, 2 stalks celery, chopped and 6 pcs calamansi or 1 lemon, sliced.

This is a regular sautéing method of cooking but first brown the strips of meat in hot oil in a large pan. Remove and set aside. On the same pan and with the remaining oil (add some if needed) sauté garlic and onion. Return the strips of meat, stir fry and follow with the vegetables: leeks, carrots and cabbage. When the vegetables are half cooked add the soy sauce and continue stir frying for a minute or two.

When it starts to smell wonderful, pour your broth slowly. Let it boil again, put the ground pepper and salt and adjust the soy sauce and seasonings according to your preference. It should be a little salty to compensate for the noodles later on. The level of broth should be just enough to fully cook the noodles but not make it soggy. Scoop out about 1 to 1 ½ cups of the meat and vegetables and set aside.

Add your drained noodles, thoroughly mix and cover. When it boils again continue mixing. Do this until your pancit is cooked.

That’s it, lovely and delicious. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the meat and vegetables set aside earlier. It will make it looks like a work of art and better than those sold from your neighbourhood eateries. C“,)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I can't wait to make this tonight along with your lumpia recipe. It is the closest I've found to what we commonly eat here in Alaska. Thanks!



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