Pancit Pointers in the Chicago Sun-Times


In today’s Chicago Sun-Times food section, Janet Rausa Fuller navigates through the tangled maze of Pancit. Although the term “Pancit” refers to Filipino noodles in general, there’s a little bit more complexity to this seemingly simple dish. In her wonderful article, “Filipino noodle recipe secured at last” Fuller writes:

“There are about a zillion variations, largely depending on the type of
the noodle but also on all the colorful garnishes. The ones Iโ€™m
familiar with include pancit canton (egg noodles), pancit bihon and
palabok (rice stick noodles), pancit sotanghon (bean thread or
cellophane noodles) and pancit luglug (thicker rice noodles).

Some versions mix two types of noodles. Chicago chef Jennifer Aranasโ€™ book,
The Filipino-American Kitchen, lists at least four renditions Iโ€™ve never heard of.

Also, no two Filipinos make pancit the same way, and all Filipinos, as
a general rule, cook their native dishes from memory, not paper.”

And therein lie the maze, not only of Pancit, but of Filipino food in general–one dish can differ completely not only from region to region, but from household to household and cook to cook. But like many other Filipino-Americans, Fuller finds answers to her Filipino food questions with a few phone calls to her mother.

After a few long-distance tutorials, Fuller is finally able to record and write down her mother’s fantastic Pancit Bihon recipe–with measurements and all!

And while I’m very certain that Fuller created her Pancit Bihon recipe on the strength of her mother’s advice and her own good taste, she did interview me as well for her story. In Fuller’s article, I provide a few basic tips of how I make Pancit Canton (of which I learned from my cousin Kathy, and will post about very soon).

So if you’re interested in some pancit pointers, check out Janet Rausa Fuller’s Pancit arcticle in the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as her Pancit Bihon recipe.

And because no two cooks make pancit the same way, I’d like to ask one question of my readers:

How do you make your Pancit?

  • Darlene February 3, 2010, 10:50 am

    I call my mom up and tell her I’m coming over for dinner. Then I have leftovers for days!

  • Steve February 3, 2010, 11:18 am

    I cook Thai style noodles, mostly “sidewalk” variety which is rice stick with fish sauce, sugar, lime/vinegar, garlic, cilantro, peppers, and what veg or meat I have on hand. But I am a fan of Pancit Palabok, which I have never learned to cook. Left to my own devices I would eat Palabok until I explode. So I depend upon the kindness of strangers, or go to the local Filipino eatery, when I need a fix. Mmmm, today sounds good!

  • Lorena February 3, 2010, 11:55 am

    It seems more than coincidence that this story came out — I’ve recently made my grandma’s quick and easy recipe for pancit and taken it to a few parties lately. It always disappears first!
    But, even though we live in a heavily Filipino-populated area, I don’t usually have pancit Canton noodles on hand. But, we always have ramen noodles, so I use those, just like my grandma does for “informal” pancit (she goes traditional for noodles when she makes a big party-sized batch). And since I’m mostly vegetarian, I don’t use meat. So, my pancit involves lots of shredded cabbage (often a whole, small head), shredded carrots, shiitake mushroom slices, lots of garlic, not much olive oil, bean thread noodles, ramen noodles and seasoned salt. I’ve also been known to include inarizushi skins sliced up for my vegan version, and shrimp for the pescatarian version where I sub seasoned salt for shrimp bouillon. Of course, I always use calamansi for extra flavor, but sub lemon juice if I have to.
    This has made me hungry — I think it might be time to make some pancit this weekend, too…

  • Charlynne February 3, 2010, 1:34 pm

    Fuller’s conversation with her mom sounds exactly like every conversation I’ve had with my mom for all her Filipino food “recipes”. I usually use canton noodles (softened in the broth obtained from cooking the chicken and a splash of soy sauce). The other components are pork, chicken, shrimp, julienned carrots and green beans, onion, garlic, and sometimes cabbage — and always garnished with fried sliced Chinese sausage and lemon wedges (since I can’t get calamansi).

  • Bianca @ South Bay Rants n Raves February 3, 2010, 6:34 pm

    I love how pancit made headlines! It’s my favorite dish & I can’t describe the sense of pride & accomplishment I had when I first made it in college.

  • Manggy February 3, 2010, 8:11 pm

    A shoot. I don’t even know how to make pancit. Yet. True story. Something tells me I should go to my grandmother’s with my Flip Video already.

  • caninecologne February 3, 2010, 9:44 pm

    hi marvin
    that’s cool that Filipino food is getting some well deserved press!
    i’ve only made pancit several times (pancit bihon). i had to get the recipe from my mom and of course, she doesn’t measure anything either. it’s a lot of prep work but once you have all the chopped ingredients at hand, it’s pretty easy to make.

  • Elis Duran February 4, 2010, 9:40 am

    My father’s father was from Pangisinan Province and he was a fine cook. My father did write down a few recipes–pancit, adobo, lumpia were family staples. His pancit was made with spaghetti noodles when we couldn’t find canton egg noodles, and was presented on a tray garnished with wedges of hard boiled egg and lemon (to be squeezed over the dish prior to eating). These were essential elements! He always used diced chicken and pork in the dish, and added shrimp in good times. Seasonings were fresh ginger and garlic, soy sauce and patis (depending on the crowd). Finally, the vegetables used depended on the decade. In the 70s I remember french green beans and onions; he gradually upgraded over the years to napa cabbage and matchstick carrots and sometimes dried mushrooms.

  • Tangled Noodle February 4, 2010, 5:24 pm

    I’m pleased to say that I finally weaned myself from Mama Sita’s palabok mix and now make pancit palabok from scratch! However, I did not learn it from my mother – I had to figure it out for myself. The suggestions offered in the comments here are great!
    (I think pancit embodies the Filipino traits of versatility and adaptability.) 8-D

  • mike February 5, 2010, 2:25 am

    Back home it’s common to have bread with along with your pancit. It’s become a habit of mine to stuff pancit in the bread. I think this is one of the best ways to enjoy pancit. I’m pretty sure some of you out there do this too.
    Starch-on-starch baby!

  • bagito February 5, 2010, 9:20 pm

    @Mike: I thought “pancit sandwich” was exclusive to my family. Glad to know we’re not the only quirky ones out there. :)

  • Maribel February 6, 2010, 4:52 pm

    My mom and sister, thankfully, taught me how to cook several filipino dishes, and pancit was one of them. I like to mix two noodles, canton and bihon, when I cook pancit. I cook pancit once in a while, but I do eat it often — somehow pancit always taste so much better when someone else has cooked it.

  • Healthly fresh starts February 7, 2010, 10:34 pm

  • greasemonkey February 8, 2010, 6:04 pm

    PANCIT NA NAMAN!?! =) it’s a common joke about why filipino-chinese have almond shaped eyes, hehehe (oh, because they stretch their faces sideways with their hands on either side of their face as they say that XD). yes, i’m chinoy and i still get that a lot whenever there’s pancit around (it’s just a joke, don’t hate on me for it).
    have you ever tried the lucky me brand of instant noodles? chilimansi (sili with kalamansi) rawks! lol! uber quick fixes for the munchies ๐Ÿ˜‰
    my own minimalist version has chinese chorizo, shrimp/prawn, carrots, toasted black sesame, kalamansi, and sesame oil. =)
    mike, are you from marikina? my friends from calumpang taught me to put pancit (usually canton) on a slice of ‘tasty’ (that’s what we call white bread, go figure), fold the bread, and eat it like a hotdog sandwich. i was told that the practice started when cobblers (marikina used to have a fantastic shoe industry) used to share pancit but didn’t have utensils at work so they simply picked a little up using a slice of bread. innovative (the way rex navarette jokingly says it)!
    wow, this is longer than i thought (yes, that’s what she said). have a great day guys! =)

  • Suzanne February 8, 2010, 10:26 pm

    yum….i love pancit

  • Andrew@Promotional Duffel Bags February 11, 2010, 12:15 pm

    I think the recipe might even differ from the different times one person might cook it. Whether they did it on purpose or not, I’m sure it’ll differ from time to time. I personally prefer canton style. Good eats regardless!

  • Julie February 19, 2010, 8:01 am

    Bihon style, all the way! Noodles chopped short so you don’t have to wrestle with them, colored with paprika and hit with a squeeze of lime. Usually, there’s pork, sometimes shrimp, too, if it’s handy. Then some carrot and celery matchsticks and chopped onion and garlic. I can never make mine taste like my mom’s, though. I didn’t pay enough attention when I was a kid. =(

  • Janet Rausa Fuller March 20, 2010, 8:17 pm

    Marvin -this is coming so late but thanks for posting about our story -and thanks for your help on it!! Oh, and by the way, I’ve made my mom’s pancit bihon twice since the story ran ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Lala April 28, 2010, 12:53 pm

    thanks for the post about pancit! no matter how hard i pay attention to my mom’s awesome pancit-cooking ways, i always find myself staring off at the wall of noodles in the market…for about oh, half an hour! sigh, it’s my weakness.
    anyways, i’ve just recently discovered your blog and am happily browsing through.
    i’m liking it so much that i’m linking it to mine ๐Ÿ˜€
    salamat!! i’ll be back soon enough.

  • Emil August 16, 2010, 1:47 am

    here are some useful links for Excellent Brand Pancit Canton
    amd i would love to comment Pancit is Longlife the Philippines “pampahaba ng buhay”


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