Dueling Noodles

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I have had my bouts with difficult and time-consuming recipes, and recipes that I just could not figure out on my own. But no matter how much I get my ass kicked in the kitchen, I always feel rejuvenated in between recipes.

It’s kinda like pushing the select button in between rounds of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out: I get all my stamina back and I’m ready to punch King Hippo in the mouth.

Whoooosh.

Sorry, that might’ve gone over some of your heads. What I’m trying to say is that the more Filipino food I make, the more confidence I gain in my Pinoy Prowess in the kitchen. And, as I’m slowly discovering, Filipino cooking can be incredibly easy (with a little bit of practice, of course).

With that said, there are usually three dishes one first learns to make when embarking on a journey of Filipino cuisine: Lumpia, Adobo, and Pancit (The Big 3).  These three dishes are, generally speaking, easy to prepare. So that’s probably why the Filipino cook learns them first.  Not coincidentally, these are also the first dishes that are usually fed to non-Filipinos with which they can dip their toes and test the waters of Filipino yumminess. Yeah, yumminess.

If you’re keeping score at home, my cracks at the Big 3 are as follows:

Lumpia – Check and check
Adobo – Check, check, check, and check
Pancit – Check

Pancit (pronounced pahn-sit) is a Filipino dish of noodles that comes in as many forms as there have been varying iPod versions. And as you can see from my Big 3 list above, I’ve only dabbled once in the Pancit department when I made sotanghon (another type of Pancit).

Why haven’t I made more Pancit recipes? Well, even though I’ve made Sotanghon before, I still have this stigma in my brain that Pancit is a difficult dish to prepare, and I’m lazy. Difficulty + Laziness = Beer.

But, after trying out Pat’s Pancit recipe over at The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, I was finally able to add another check next to Pancit on my Big 3 list.

Pat is currently in the process of writing a cookbook entitled “The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook” that will feature all types of Asian recipes she’s collected from well, Asian grandmas–along with some recipes from mothers and aunties too. It’s a brilliant idea. One of those ideas that makes me want to smack myself in the head and wonder why I couldn’t come up with it. Kinda like when I found out Tex Winter created the triangle offense:

“Damn you Tex Winter! I could have totally come up with a space-based triple post scheme on my own! Damn you straight to hell old man!”

Alright, so maybe I’m just not that brilliant, but this Pancit recipe is, so pays some attention!

Although there are dozens of different noodles that can be used for different types of Pancit, this particular recipe uses two types: Vermicelli (rice) and Canton (egg) noodles. I’ve never had Pancit with two types of noodles before, it’s always been one or the other for me, so I was very interested to see how the two noods would play with each other.

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The thick yellow noodles in the front are the Canton noodles, and the thin white noodles in the back are the Vermicelli noodles. You first must soak the Vermicelli in hot water for 10-15 minutes until they are soft, and you must also soak the Canton noodles in boiling water for 1 minute until they are soft.  The noodles can then be drained and set aside.

After precooking the noodles, saute some garlic and onions in a large saute pan or wok (preferably a wok), and then some chicken can be added to the hot pan and cooked through. I used boneless and skinless chicken thighs that I cut into bite-sized pieces.

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When the chicken is cooked through, deglaze the pan with some soy sauce and toyomansi (a sauce made from soy and kalamansi juice that can be found at Asian markets), then add some shredded carrots and cabbage.  When the cabbage has wilted a bit, add the pre-cooked noodles to the pan and toss until everything is well coated and heated.

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Serve the pancit with some lime or lemon or kalamansi on the side (whatever you have), garnish with some green onions, and you’re done.

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Easy right? I must admit though, I cheated just a little bit and bought
some pre-shredded carrots and pre-shredded cabbage from the store and
that made things much easier for me. I’m always very dubious of my own cooking when I try something for the first time, but this pancit turned out wonderfully with lots of flavor from the soy and toyomansi, and I really loved the different textures of the noodles.  If you’ve never made pancit, or have never eaten pancit, this is a very good recipe with which to start.

You can find the exact recipe for this Pancit at The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook.

  • Mila January 29, 2008, 9:26 pm

    It’s great that you feel all this is building your confidence in filipino food. Maybe your next pancit could be something a bit harder… pancit luglug perhaps, if that’s the one with the smoked fish. Or palabok.

    Reply
  • Manggy January 29, 2008, 9:33 pm

    That looks very authentic! My grandmother doesn’t add sourness (in the form of toyomansi, which can be easily mocked up, by the way), she prefers to just serve it with calamansi on the side. Her touch is to render chopped-up pork belly at the start and to add annatto (achuete) water for color and taste.

    Reply
  • Julie January 29, 2008, 10:34 pm

    You nailed the big three when I do intro dinners, too. I always add fried rice, though … not that it’s technically Filipino … maybe it is. Hmm … Anyway, I’ve always favored the vermicelli pancit, usually only going for the egg noodles when the dish was still fresh. It’s just not the same after being reheated. It’s been a long time since I’ve made pancit. Gotta get the noodles rolling!
    I totally cheat the cabbage and carrot, too–I’m not a slaw fan aside from being able to use the ready-to-use packs in Filipino cooking.

    Reply
  • Wandering Chopsticks January 29, 2008, 11:41 pm

    The big 3 is right. Prior to your blog, those were the only Filipino foods I ever ate. Oh wait, and biko (sp?) b/c my friend makes that and it’s like VNese che to me.

    Reply
  • dhanggit January 30, 2008, 12:21 am

    hey, this post give me envies to eat pansit!! :-) i could eat them for breakfast, lunch and even for miryenda ..btw, i love your pansit it looks really light!!for my version always look a bit soggy :-(

    Reply
  • Chad January 30, 2008, 8:45 am

    You forgot the one of the most important factors in a pancit ensemble – the stock. The noodles are “softened” in the pan with the rich stock (like chicken or pork); they absorb it. The science is like how you make risotto. That is why there is skill in making this two-noodled: the two types cook differently. If you watch it you can pull it off though. Or you can cook em separately. Or you can place the noodles in hot stock to begin with.

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  • raissa January 30, 2008, 9:35 am

    This dish is what is called “bam-i” why its called that I have no idea LOL I will admit I have never attempted to make pancit because well our family has our own “pancit king”, my uncle haha and I mean that literally because all he does is cook. all the prepping is done by everyone else but him. He comes in just to cook it and serve it hot off the wok. Its usually gone in seconds. I think he puts patis instead of soy sauce. Maybe I should observe more when he is cooking. Your pancit looks yummy. I dont like them too brown or too many soy sauce. It looks just about right. Good job Marvin =)

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  • IvyG January 30, 2008, 10:33 am

    I love all types of pancit, especially miki-bihon or bam-i. Thanks for sharing this post.

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  • Pat January 30, 2008, 10:38 am

    Your pancit looks yummier than mine! No fair!

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  • oggi January 30, 2008, 10:58 am

    The bam-i looks perfect and yummy.
    I also prefer my pancit light colored, not too brown, to show the different colors of the vegetables.

    Reply
  • bernadette January 30, 2008, 5:16 pm

    just a bit of more pancit dishes i came across some provinces—aside from the bami, there is in the province of Lucena they call pansit habhab. They serve it on a banana leaf and don’t give you any fork because you have to eat it by using your hands! Quite an adventure for the inexperienced :-)! It looks like the dish that you just now cooked. Of course there are included the pansit luglug, palabok and lomi which are rich with chicken, pork and shrimp stocks and toppings. I love them all…and I feel the urge to cook some up now!

    Reply
  • Cynthia January 31, 2008, 4:25 am

    I’m gonna try this. Thanks for your kitchen experiments in making some of us better cooks.

    Reply
  • cookienurse January 31, 2008, 5:42 am

    I also use stock and patis and some soy sauce. Yours looks pretty good. You’re an inspiration for other young filipinos..thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Carl Carlson January 31, 2008, 9:46 am

    I remember Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! I used to always get to Mr. Sandman and then lose. Oh, the horror!
    One time I was in New York and saw a dude riding a bike alongside a guy in a hoodie running by the Hudson and I shouted “Little Mac!”
    It was so sweet.

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia February 1, 2008, 10:24 am

    Thanks Mila. I actually have something planned soon for another pancit. Hopefully it turns out ok.
    Manggy, my grandmother does something similar too, also adding garlic to the rendered pork belly.
    Hi Julie. Yeah, I usually don’t use the pre-cut stuff, but it does save a lot of time.
    WC, the only VNese I’ve eaten is Pho and banh mi. Is there a third for the VNese big 3?
    dhanggit, this pancit wasn’t soggy at all. There was just the right amount of soy in it.
    Hi Chad, you’re right, stock is another option when cooking the noodles, and it would create even more flavor.
    Hi raissa. You’re lucky you have your very own pancit king!
    Thanks for visiting IvyG! Miki-bihon is another favorite of mine too.
    Pat, this IS your pancit! Thanks again for a great recipe.
    Thanks oggi! Good point about showing off the colors of the veggies.
    Hello bernadette! I’m glad this has inspired you to cook some pancit of your own.
    Thanks Cynthia! Let me know how it turns out.
    Very nice of you to say cookienurse. Thanks for stopping by!
    Carl, I also had trouble with Mr. Sandman. His timing is off, so that was always hard to read. But I’m glad to say that I still have the code to Mike Tyson burned into my brain and I can still beat him today!

    Reply
  • Wandering Chopsticks February 1, 2008, 10:15 pm

    Marvin,
    Probably goi cuon (summer/salad/spring rolls), the fresh rice paper kind and not the fried ones. Although cha gio (egg rolls) are popular too.
    Unless you want to consider drinks, there’s always ca phe sua da (VNese iced coffee).
    And soon you can add broken rice dishes to your VNese food knowledge. :)

    Reply
  • Sydney hotels January 9, 2010, 3:01 am

    I love to cook Lomi plus bihon. The taste is so good. Canton and bihon is also a bestseller.

    Reply
  • Library Lady February 19, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Pancit is what my older daughter just requested for her 16th birthday.
    Her dad is Pinoy and I am not, so I let him take charge of the cooking using a recipe of my sister-in-law’s which is close to this one.
    He’s a great cook, but not a fast one, so over time I have sped the dish up by using packaged coleslaw mix in place of the cabbage and carrots–it works fine. Our recipe also includes green beans, and I’ve found that thawed frozen french cut green beans work perfectly. We usually use pork and I add steamed shrimp at the end for the members of the family who like them. But we’ve also made this with chicken when making it for groups. Everyone always loves it.

    Reply

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