Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pancit Bihon

Pancit Bihon is a classic Filipino dish that originated from Chinese occupants in the Philippines a long time ago. This is a popular dish that is often served during birthday parties for long life, fiestas (town birthdays), New Year’s Eve, and other big gatherings. Filipinos are fond of getting together and pancit seems to be everyone’s favorite. Everyone has their own version of pancit and it is a no-fail dish because no matter who makes it, it is always delicious!

Pancit is what Filipinos call stir-fry noodle dishes. Different kinds of noodles may be used in a pancit: egg noodles, cellophane noodles, thick rice noodles, or rice sticks (which is what I used in this recipe). There are different kinds of vegetable and meat or seafood combinations that can be thrown in a pancit. The most common vegetables are cabbage, carrots, celery, string beans, bell peppers, and green onions. The meat or seafood are usually, chicken, pork, Chinese sausage, and shrimp. What is most common among all pancit is the use of soy sauce for seasoning. Usually, when there is meat or seafood in the pancit, some key limes are added to temper the oiliness or the fishy taste.

As soon as I got home from work on Wednesday night, I started preparing the ingredients for this recipe all the while talking to my mom on the phone. It was a very nostalgic moment and it seemed like it wasn’t that long ago when I was helping her chop the vegetables in our hot and cozy kitchen back home. Oh Mama, how I miss you! Thank you for spoiling me with all the good food when I was growing up. Watching and observing you taught me how to cook and you would be impressed with the things that I am able to make now. All because of you! 

This pancit recipe that I am sharing is vegetarian but just as good as any other pancit! I fed it to my all-American boyfriend and he absolutely loved it. Not just because I made it, but because it was really, really good. All the vegetables are nicely cooked and they retained their crunch and juiciness. The slightly spicy sauce wonderfully complemented the vegetables and the noodles are cooked just right. With its spicy/herby touch, cilantro is the perfect garnish for this dish. DFJ suggested that we add cashews and I was glad for that advice because the cashews added a very delicious, sweet and nutty crunch.       

If you want a healthy, delicious weeknight meal or something new to bring to parties, make some pancit! Cutting the vegetables might take time but once you get that part done, the cooking time is pretty quick. Feel free to use the other vegetables I mentioned above or add some meat. When adding meat, make sure you pre-season them with salt and pepper and cut them into bite size pieces.         

Pancit Bihon (Makes 4 servings)

2.5 oz rice stick noodles
water to soak noodles
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large shallot, sliced thinly
6 shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 large bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
half a bunch of bok choy, chopped, stalks included

1/2 tsp salt
a few grinds of black pepper

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish
1/2 cup toasted cashews, to garnish (recipe below)

Place the rice stick noodles in a large bowl. Add water to cover the noodles and soak for 20-30 minutes. Set aside. While the rice is soaking, prepare the vegetables. Everything should be set up in advance because each ingredient cooks for a short time and it is best not to overcook them.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha. Set aside. 

Heat olive oil in a large, deep pan or a wok (if you have one). When the oil is hot but not smoking, cook the garlic until golden brown. Add the shallot slices and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Throw in the mushrooms and cook until shiny and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for a minute. Stir in the celery and carrot and cook just until they start to glisten, about 2 minutes. Pour in the sauce mixture and stir for 30 seconds, making sure everything gets coated with the good stuff. Throw in the bok choy and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.

Now it is time to add the noodles. Use clean hands to grab the noodles from the bowl. There is no need to shake out the excess water that the noodles will carry, allow it to drip into the pan. That little bit of water adds moisture and will aid in cooking the noodles. Use a fork to separate the rice noodles and evenly distribute them for 3 minutes. Cover the pan and let cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir for another minute. Turn off the stove and move the pan away from the heat. You want to make sure not to leave the pan on the hot stove top for a long time, the noodles get mushy pretty fast. Continue to stir so all ingredients are evenly dispersed.

Serve immediately with a garnish of toasted cashews and fresh cilantro.

Toasted Raw Cashews

½ cup raw cashews, roughly chopped

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, toast the cashews for 5-8 minutes until they turn golden. Stir often and keep a close eye on them (they burn really fast!). When you think they are done, move to a small bowl and let cool.


  1. Looks like a fantastic noodle dish!

  2. My stomach is growling just looking at this! Sounds like a dish I need to try. Hopefully the luck will still apply even if I eat it after the new year!


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