Pancit canton (a.k.a. lo mein or chow mein)

An updated version of a recipe originally published on June 15, 2003.

A dish of Chinese origin that has become very much a part of Filipino cuisine, pancit canton may refer to lo mein or chow mein, depending on who you’re talking to (click here to read the difference between the two). Basically, it is a stir-fried dish composed of egg noodles, meat, poultry or seafood and a medley of vegetables.

There are several ways of preparing the noodles when cooking pancit canton. The most common method is to blanch the dried noodles in boiling water for a few seconds then draining them. Another method is to blanch the noodles, then lightly frying them in oil before stirring them into the sauce. A third method is to plunge the dry noodles in plenty of hot smoking oil until puffed. This is the method used for cooking crispy canton where the meat, vegetables and sauce are poured over the fried noodles arranged on the serving platter.

Personally, I prefer not to blanch the noodles because it makes them soggy. I prefer that they cook in broth and absorb the flavor of the meat and vegetables. I have tried the second method also–frying the noodles first before stirring them into the sauce. This method gives the cooked pancit canton the best texture. However, the cooked dish is also a lot more oily. It also means adding another cooking procedure that means longer cooking time and more utensils to wash.

For this recipe of pancit canton, the dried noodles were added to the barely cooked stir fried vegetables. Just enough broth was poured in to cook the noodles. The starch-thickened sauce was prepared separately. If using fresh egg noodles, there is no need to add broth.

Ingredients

  • about 125 g. of dried egg noodles (or 250 g. of fresh egg noodles)
    2 c. of cooked and thinly meat or seafood (pork, beef, chicken, shrimps, prawns, squids…), or a combination of meats and seafood
    1 onion or 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
    1 carrot, peeled and julienned
    12 to 15 runner (Baguio) beans, stringed and sliced diagonally into thin strips
    1 c. of shredded cabbage (any variety)
    about 1 c. of meat broth, preferably homemade
    4 tbsps. of cooking oil
    salt and pepper, to taste

    For the sauce:

    4 cloves of garlic, minced
    about 1 and 1/2 c. of meat broth, preferably homemade
    4 tbsps. of oyster sauce
    2 tbsps. of hoisin sauce
    salt and pepper, to taste
    2 tsps. of tapioca or corn starch

Instructions

  1. Make the sauce. Mix together all the ingredients, pour in a small pan and cook until thickened and no longer cloudy. Simmer (to remove all traces of starchy taste) while stir frying.

    In a wok or frying pan, heat the cooking oil. Add the beans, onion, carrot and cabbage, one after the other, with an interval of about 10 seconds and stirring between each addition. Add the meat or seafood. Stir. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper — do this sparingly as you will be adding a well-seasoned sauce later.

    Add the noodles. Pour in about a cup of hot (simmering would be best) broth over the noodles which should make it start softening instantly. Cook, stirring often, just until the noodles are done. The vegetables will cook at about the same time.

    Pour the simmering sauce over the cooked noodle dish. Stir. Cook for another minute. Serve at once.

Cooking time (duration): 15

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: lunch

The pancit canton recipe published on June 15, 2003 is on page 2.