Like most Filipino dishes, there is no “right” way to make Pancit. Each family has its own take on the dish, and within any given family, there are variations. The basics are Pancit Noodles, meat, vegetables and hard-boiled eggs. Beyond that, the sky is the limit.
Growing up, Pancit is not something we ate at home. I haven’t a clue as to why, since it was always present at family gatherings – just not those in our house. I think I was ten the first time I can remember having Pancit. We had spent a summer in the Philippines getting to know our countless cousins. My mother is second to the youngest of sixteen children. Needless to say, cousins in our family are as countless as the stars. Especially when you consider that in Filipino culture, close family friends are viewed as “relatives”. Filipinos are very family oriented. Nothing is more valuable than family – and family isn’t limited to immediate – the extensions are vast. My grandson knows my Aunts as “Lola” – meaning grandmother. All my aunts are his grandmother and they treat him accordingly – even when meeting for the first time. My mother’s schoolmates were all “Tita” to me – meaning aunt. I am as close to my cousins as I am to my own siblings. There is no distinction. Gatherings are a community even. An invitation is considered to be community property. Want to have a party? Invite a few Filipinos. They will in turn invite everyone they know.
In the summer of 1990, my mother’s sister was coming for a visit. (That means traveling from house to house, spending time and having lots of parties). When it came time for me to host a party, I wanted to show off my Filipino side. That meant a spread to end all spreads. Pancit, Adobo and Lumpia were an absolute must. The problem was, I had never made Pancit. Didn’t have clue one. Another thing I love about my Filipino side is that when it comes to family gatherings, everyone lends a hand. That year my cousin, Bing, gladly taught me how to make Pancit. Since then, it has evolved. Although Pancit is served as a “side” or as an additional entrée, Pancit can be a meal on its own – packed with meats, noodles and vegetables.
Filipino Pancit with Chicken, Pork & Shrimp
½ Pound Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast, Cooked and Shredded
½ Pound Pork Tenderloin, Cooked and Shredded (Optional, increase chicken meat to 1 pound if not adding pork)
½ Pound Cooked Shrimp (Optional)
1 ½ Cups Water
1 Cup Soy Sauce
½ Cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 Cup Chopped Celery
2-3 Carrots, Shredded
2-3 Cloves Garlic
2 Cups Snow Peas, cut
1 Cup Bean Sprouts (optional)
4-5 Hard-Boiled Eggs, sliced
1 Package Thin Rice Noodles or Pancit Noodles
1 Can Chicken or Vegetable Broth, warmed
4-5 Green Onions
Additional Ground Pepper & Soy Sauce to taste, optional at serving
Place chicken breasts and pork in a large pot. Cover with 1 ½ cups water, 1-cup soy sauce and ½-cup Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a full boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until meat falls apart, about 2-3 hours. Remove meat from liquid. When cool enough to handle, shred meat by hand. This can be made several days in advance, stored in refrigerator with a small amount of the cooking liquid to keep meat moist. Reheat the meat before continuing.
While the meat is cooking, boil the eggs and prepare the vegetables. Peel and chop the garlic, set aside. Wash, peel and shred the carrots, set aside. Wash and chop the celery, set aside. Cut the roots from the green onions, discard. Chop the remaining onion, white and green alike. Set aside. Cut the snow peas at an angle, about 1/2 inch. Set aside. If using bean sprouts, rinse well and chop. Set aside. (Yeah, there will be lots of bowls of chopped veggies crowding your kitchen counter. But aren’t the colors pretty?)
Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with warmed broth. When noodles are soft, drain and cut in half. Set aside.
In a large skillet or wok, sauté the vegetables (except garlic) until tender to the bite. Add garlic and continue to cook about 1 minute. Add cooked shrimp, shredded meats and softened noodles, tossing to heat thoroughly. Off heat, add sliced eggs and green onions, toss to blend mixture. If desired, season lightly with soy sauce and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.