May 12, 2008

pancit bihon guisado

A symbol of prosperity and a belief that it brings long life, birthday parties, celebrations and gatherings are incomplete without pancit, a stir-fried rice noodle dish, very similar to Chinese chow mein or lo mein. Actually, this is just one of the many delicious dishes we have learned and adapted from the Chinese which has evolved to be very Filipino. There's a huge Chinese-Filipino population in Manila where Binondo, a well known Chinatown area, is located. It's a big area and community filled to the max with stores and restaurants dedicated to servicing not just the Chinese but Filipinos, other nationalities and tourists as well. There are many creative pancit varieties and some are listed here. Another interesting write-up and ad with some additional information about the pancit can be found in this link. One of the most popular is pancit bihon. It is made with pork and chicken, lots of veggies, and a finer kind of rice noodle called bihon. Some of the commonly used veggies are carrots, cabbage, green onions, chicharo or snap peas, celery, green beans, red bell pepper and chayote to name a few. All of these veggies are usually finely julienned to cook faster when stir-fried in the wok. Soy sauce with a little oyster sauce may be used for flavoring. The pork and chicken (preferably with bones) were seasoned with salt and pepper, then cooked and simmered in water together until fork tender. They were thinly sliced and set aside with the other ingredients. It's advisable to have all the ingredients ready before starting to stir-fry. Some like to soak the rice noodles in water but I prefer adding the dry noodles to the stock and letting them absorb it for more flavor. The veggies may also be blanched ahead to retain their bright colors then just tossed with the noodles after cooking. Other additional ingredients we like to add, but may be hard to find here, are sliced longganisa macao or dried Chinese sausages, sliced fish or squid balls (sold frozen in most Asian markets and groceries in Manila), but these are optional. Serve the pancit steaming hot with some sliced lemons and sliced green onions.

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