Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles) Recipe

3 mins read



Why It Works

  • Quickly sautéing the garlic, onions, carrots, and snow peas together ensures a crisp texture.
  • Finishing with soy sauce, fish sauce, and oyster sauce seasons the dish without oversalting it. 

Pancit—a noodle dish with vegetables, seafood, and/or meat—is everyday fare in the Philippines, but it’s also commonly served at birthdays, holidays, and celebrations since noodles symbolize long life. The word “pancit,” which means noodles in Tagalog, is derived from “pian e sit,” in Hokkien, a language that originated in southeastern China, and a rough translation is “conveniently-cooked food.” Panciterias were arguably the first restaurants in the Philippines, where Chinese traders hawked ready-to-eat noodles to a clientele consisting primarily of farm laborers in need of a quick, nourishing meal.

Pancit comes in many forms, and the names of the dishes typically indicate the type of noodle used, the place of origin, the other ingredients, and/or the method of eating it. For example, pancit Malabon, which features an assortment of seafood, is named after a coastal city in Metropolitan Manila. Pancit palabok is served with a shrimp-infused annatto sauce and liberally topped with crushed chicharon, shrimp, pork, and sliced hard-boiled eggs. Pancit Molo, a dumpling soup that uses wonton wrappers, is named after the district of Molo in Iloilo City where a large community of Chinese settlers resided during the Spanish colonial period. And, pancit habhab is served on a banana leaf that also doubles as a utensil. 

Pancit bihon, made with bihon noodles (also known as rice vermicelli), is one of the most common pancit iterations you’ll find on the archipelago. What makes this pancit so popular is the simplicity of its ingredients and the cooking process—a combination of shredded chicken, cabbage, wood ear mushrooms, snow peas, carrots, shrimp, pork, and/or quail eggs is tossed with rice vermicelli, chicken stock, and soy sauce. 

For my version, I simmer chicken thighs with water to yield both shredded chicken and stock. I then stir-fry garlic, onions, carrots, and snow peas in a wok, add my noodles and stock, and cook until the noodles are soft. To finish, I simply mix in the shredded chicken and an ultra-savory combination of soy sauce, fish sauce, and oyster sauce. This easy, delicious dish is suitable for any day of week and for any occasion. 

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