Arts & Entertainment

Dorothy Dean presents: perfecting pancit bihon

Pancit is a flavorful, one-pot, Filipino dish. (Audrey Alfaro)
Pancit is a flavorful, one-pot, Filipino dish. (Audrey Alfaro)

Pancit, a Filipino staple, second to rice, is a stir-fry dish of noodles, meats and vegetables simply seasoned with soy sauce.

Pancit translates to “noodles,” and the two main types are bihon, or thin rice noodles, and canton, or thick flour noodles.

This version calls for the bihon noodles, which can be found at any Asian specialty store. And, to save time, I always grab a rotisserie chicken from Costco and just use the breast meat off of that. Pork and shrimp can also be used, and Chinese sausage is a common addition.

It’s a flavorful one-pot dish. Pancit noodles are coated with salty aromas of soy, speckled with soft bites of chicken and tender-crisp veggies, then topped with slices of hard boiled eggs, green onions and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

This dish not only reflects Filipino heritage, but culture, too. It’s an ancient Asian superstition that long noodles signify long life and health. That’s why it’s most commonly served on birthdays, baptisms and New Year’s celebrations.

With my father being Filipino, I grew up having pancit on every birthday and at all our family gatherings. To this day, it’s a birthday tradition, and I commonly make it to go alongside my Filipino-style barbecue chicken.

Also, I will warn you, this recipe makes a lot. I’m always making it for parties, so my recipe is built for serving a large group. Halve it if you’re not feeding the neighborhood.

Pancit Bihon

2 quarts chicken stock

1 (12-14 ounce) package pancit bihon noodles or rice noodles

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups sliced onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups julienned carrots

3 cups celery, sliced thinly on a bias

2 cups snow peas, ends trimmed and tough string removed

4 cups cooked chicken meat, shredded

4 cups thinly shredded cabbage

2 teaspoons garlic powder

3/4 cup soy sauce, or more if desired

2 teaspoons paprika

For serving:

1/4 cup green onions, sliced

4 hard boiled eggs, sliced

2 lemons, cut into wedges

In a large pot, bring chicken stock to a boil. Remove from heat and add in pancit noodles until fully submerged and cover. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, or until al dente, then drain, reserving 2 cups of broth. Using clean kitchen scissors, cut noodles so they’re shorter in length. Set aside.

In a wok or extra large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Stir in carrots, celery, snow peas and cooked chicken. Cook until veggies are crisp-tender. Stir in cabbage and garlic powder. Add in noodles, 1/4 cup reserved broth, 3/4 cup soy sauce and paprika. Gently toss and stir, adding more liquid (broth) as needed, until noodles are cooked yet firm to bite, vegetables are tender-crisp, and liquid is absorbed. Taste and add up to 1/4 cup more soy sauce, if desired.

Transfer pancit to a serving dish and garnish green onions, sliced boiled eggs and lemon wedges.