Considering Filipino-Americans are the largest Asian-American group in Southern California, I wonder why Filipino food has not integrated into mainstream cuisine. You enter a buffet restaurant and you’ll find an endless array of Mexican tacos, Italian pizza or even Chinese Kung Pao but never a Filipino dish. I think this is because the American market, for some reason, has not been adequately introduced to the intricacies of the Filipino food culture because really, if tried and tested, what’s not to love about our adobo, our bistek and of course, our pancit bihon guisado?
Pancit bihon guisado is a popular Filipino noodle stir-fry made with rice noodles and a delicious hodgepodge of bite-sized meat and vegetables. There are so many ways to make this dish, every cook in every household is sure to have their own version.
Sweet sausage Hamonado, chicken, shrimp, carrots, cabbage, and celery are standard ingredients in my pancit but add-ons are really customizable. Feel free to swap or add pork strips, sweet peas and mushrooms if you like.
One step, though, in this guisado that you shouldn’t skip is parboiling the noodles in broth prior to stir-frying. Most recipes suggest soaking the rice noodles in warm water to soften before cooking but my simple trick of submerging and BRIEFLY cooking the noodles in stock instead gives more depth of flavor. Please note that this is a very quick step and is only to loosen and slightly soften the strands as the noodles will finish cooking during the stir-fry process.
I am pretty flexible with whatever goes into my pancit bihon but I am a stickler about the overall texture of the dish. Please don’t overcook your noodles and veggies. Make sure the noodles are al dente and the veggies are tender-crisp. Nothing ruins a good platter of pancit bihon guisado than mushy noodles and limp carrots or cabbage!
The secret of a successful stir-fry is how the ingredients are prepped and sliced. Make sure to cut your meat and veggies into uniform bite sizes so they’ll cook fast and evenly. Another important component is the cookware you use. A wok, of course, is the best for the job but any wide skillet with slanted sides will work as well. You might have to cook in batches if you don’t have a big enough cookware to prevent spills (tossing all the ingredients can get pretty messy) and to ensure good distribution of ingredients.
That’s it, folks. Enjoy!
- 4 to 5 cups chicken stock
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 (8 ounces) package rice noodles
- ½ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ½ pound boneless chicken breast or thigh meat, diced
- 1 package (16 ounces) pork hamonado or Chinese sausage, sliced thinly in a bias
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced thinly in a bias
- 2 stalks celery, sliced thinly on a bias
- 1 small cabbage, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- green onions, chopped
- calamansi or lemon, cut into wedges
- In a large pot over medium heat, combine chicken stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Submerge noodles into the liquid and cook, using tongs to loosen strands, for about 1 to 2 minutes or just until softened. Drain noodles and reserve about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of liquid.
- In a wide skillet or work over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon oil. Add shrimps and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until color changes to pink. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Wipe down wok or skillet and add more oil as needed.
- Add onions and garlic and cook until limp and aromatic. Add chicken and cook, stirring regularly, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add pork hamonado and cook, stirring regularly, until they start to brown. Add carrots and celery and cook for about 30 to 40 seconds. Add cabbage. Return shrimp to wok. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender yet crisp.
- Add noodles. Add reserved liquid in ½ cup increments. Gently toss and stir, adding more liquid as needed, until noodles are cooked yet firm to bite and liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve hot with calamansi.