Surprisingly, there is no pancit bihon recipe in my archives. There is a pancit miki bihon and that’s about it. A good thing, really, that I’m posting the pancit bihon recipe more than five years after this food blog first went online. I’ve done things to this noodle dish that, I hope, makes it less than ordinary.
Bihon is rice sticks. Thin, thin rice sticks, to be more precise. Commonly served with sauteed meat and vegetables, and seasoned with soy sauce or patis (fish sauce), or both, pancit bihon is a popular midday snack in the Philippines. The most common way to prepare the dry rice sticks is to soak them in water before tossing them with the sauteed meat and vegetables. I prefer to add the still-dry noodles to the pan and pour in broth to make them expand. The sight of the noodles expanding before my eyes as they absorb the liquid, with all its wonderful flavors, is just amazing. And, to make sure that the vegetables don’t get soggy, the meat and vegetables are sauteed in a separate pan.
breast of one chicken or 4 chicken thigh fillets
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms
12 green beans (short string beans)
a quarter of a head of cabbage
1 whole garlic
2 eggs, beaten
6 tbsps. of cooking oil
250 g. of dry bihon
2 to 3 c. of meat broth (or a combination of meat broth and mushroom soaking water if using dried mushrooms)
4 to 6 tbsps. of patis (fish sauce) or soy sauce or a combination of both
1 tbsp. of Kecap manis
kalamansi halves, to serve
Cut the chicken meat into small, thin pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
Discard the stems of the mushrooms. Slice the caps thinly.
Trim the ends and edges of the green beans. Cut diagonally into one-inch lengths.
Peel the carrot and cut into matchsticks.
Shred the cabbage.
Crush, peel and finely mince the garlic.
Peel and finely slice the onion.
Heat a tablespoonful of cooking oil in a wok. Pour in the egg and cook just until set. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a chopping board. Chop roughly and set aside.
Pour in three more tablespoonfuls of cooking oil into the wok. Fry the chicken strips over high heat just until they change color. Add the carrot sticks and green beans, and cook, stirring for about a minute. Add the mushrooms and shredded cabbage and cook, stirring, for another two minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken and vegetables to a plate or shallow bowl and set aside.
Pour in the rest of the cooking oil into the wok. Saute the garlic and onion until fragrant, about a minute. Add the dry noodles to the wok and pour in two cups of broth, four tablespoonfuls of patis (or soy sauce, or both) and the Kecap manis. Bring to the boil. When the noodles start to swell, stir them. Continue cooking, stirring often, until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Test a noodle by pressing it between your fingers. If there is still a lot of resistance, add the rest of the broth and seasoning, and continue cooking until dry.
When the noodles are done, add the sauteed chicken and vegetables to the pan and toss until everything is evenly heated. Finally, add the chopped eggs and stir a few times before serving.
Serve with kalamansi halves on the side.