Pancit Bihon: “Long Life”

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In Filipino culture, it’s tradition to eat noodles on one’s birthday.  The long noodles represent long life.  A classic Filipino noodle dish is pancit bihon that uses Chinese rice noodles.  It’s got a soy-citrus taste with some kind of meat for more flavor.  In general, I usually only eat pancit during family parties, but I must admit the Filipino store in my town has a pretty tasty recipe.  I made an attempt this past weekend to replicate it.  Most of the recipes I looked up used more or less the same techniques and ingredients.

I decided to take an impromptu drive up to Massachusetts to visit my tita and her family.  Appropriately, it was her birthday yesterday, so I greeted her at the door with a traditional serving of ‘long life.’

When prepping and cooking, I was surprised at how simple the ingredients were, yet they created a distinct flavor.  Despite how much my little cousins ate up the pancit, raving about how good it tasted, next time I cook this dish, I plan to add more garlic and season the chicken (or whatever meat I use) more liberally.  Here is the recipe.  If you attempt it at home, please share your feedback and experiences with me! 🙂

Pancit Bihon

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. cooking oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2.5 lbs. chicken breast, cut into small strips
2 sticks carrots, julienned
1 head green cabbage, shredded
2-3 tbsp. soy sauce
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
2 cups chicken broth
patis, to taste
1 cup water
1 lb. Chinese rice noodles (1 package)
lemon or kalimansi juice, to taste

In a deep frying pan or wok, saute garlic and onions in oil for 1 minute.  Before color change, add chicken and soy sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover pan until juices from chicken come out, about 10-15 minutes.  Add chicken broth, carrots, cabbage.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Add patis.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, sift out veggies and chicken, and put aside.  Add water & noodles.  Cook noodles for 3-5 minutes.  Remove noodles and transfer to a serving dish.  Toss with lemon juice and if desired, season with more patis and pepper.  Pour chicken and veggies on top.  Garnish with lemon slices.

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Scoop chicken & veggies out of broth and leave off the side.

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Noodles cooking in water & broth, 3-5 minutes.

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Serve chicken and veggies over noodles, then garnish with lemon slices!

Tips:
– You can buy shredded cabbage in packages, or shred it yourself at home.  I found this link helpful: http://theshiksa.com/2013/01/29/how-to-shred-cabbage/
– Try a different meat or use other types of meat in addition to the chicken, like shrimp, pork slices, etc.
– Refrigerate any leftovers in airtight container to preserve freshness.

*I did refer to two Filipino cookbooks for this recipe, which I will list here when I get back home from Massachusetts.

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