I admire the Italians for their ability to turn basic pasta dough into so many shapes and sizes, then combine the noodles with all kinds of meat, seafood, sauces, vegetables and herbs to create endless dishes that taste, smell and look different from one another.
I admire the Chinese for the same reasons.
I am neither Italian nor Chinese but I like to apply their philosophy when cooking Filipino-style noodle dishes. You probably know what follows — a pancit bihon dish that looks, tastes and smells so radically different from the basic noodle-pork-and-vegetable recipe that most of us grew up with. How was it? Speedy isn’t a fan of noodles (of whatever kind) but he had three helpings. Enough said, right?
Recipe: Sweet and spicy rice sticks (bihon) with pork and pineapple
- 125 g. of rice sticks (bihon, in the Philippines)
- about 150 g. of boiled pork, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsps. of vegetable cooking oil
- 1 heaping tbsp. of minced garlic
- 2 to 3 tbsps. of light soy sauce
- 2 to 3 tbsps. of fish sauce (patis, in the Philippines)
- 2 to 3 tbsps. of sugar
- 2 finger chilis, thinly sliced
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 slices of fresh pineapple, diced
- crisp fried shallots
- Soak the rice sticks in a large bowl of lukewarm water. It’ll take about 15 minutes for the noodles to swell.
- While the noodles are soaking, cook the pork and vegetables. Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, just until fragrant. Do not brown because the garlic will have to cook longer with the rest of the ingredients. Brown the garlic bits now and they’ll be burnt by the time the noodles are added to the pan.
- Add the pork to the garlic. Cook, stirring, for about a minute.
- Pour in the soy sauce and fish sauce. Sprinkle in the sugar. Cook, stirring often, until the sauces caramelize and coat the pork.
- Add the sliced chilis and celery. Stir. Cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the diced pineapple. Stir.
- Drain the noodles and add to the pan. Stir and toss alternately until the noodles uniformly acquire the coloring of the pork mixture and gets heated through. Turn off the heat. Taste the noodles and add more fish sauce, if needed.
- Sprinkle with the crisp onion slices and serve.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2 to 3