Oodles of Noodles: Celebrate Chinese New Year with Pancit
By Haydee Vicedo
Chinese New Year is just a few days away and there isn’t a more delicious and appropriate dish to serve and eat than pancit. Filipino cuisine is a combination of many influences, with one of the biggest coming from the most populated country in the world, China. Quick history lesson for those who don’t know, the Chinese entered the Philippines for trade purposes in the 1600’s, bringing with them noodles. Oodles and oodles of noodles. Since Filipinos are such creative folks, we made about eight million (give or take a few million) versions of pancit. It has since become one of the most well-known Filipino dishes in the world, right next to adobo and lumpia. Noodles (or pancit) symbolize “long life” for many folks in the Philippines, thus many households serve a batch during special occasions, including birthdays, (Gregorian calendar) New Year and, of course, Chinese New Year. Of the many varieties of pancit, the two most popular that will probably grace the tables of those celebrating the Year of the Snake this year are pancit bihon and pancit canton.
1. Pancit Bihon: This is probably the most popular type of pancit in the Philippines and beyond (yes, even the galaxy). If you’re Filipino, you’ve probably helped your Lola cut carrots, cabbage, celery and other crunchy veggies to go along with the thin rice noodles and strips of chicken or pork that make up this dish . If you’re not Filipino, your co-worker or best friend’s mom have probably served this to you at one of their house parties, right next to twenty other chafing dishes (and it was always the container that needed to be re-filled every five minutes). When someone thinks of pancit, bihon is probably what they’re salivating for.
2. Pancit Canton: The fat brother of pancit bihon, the canton version uses pre-cooked egg noodles that Chinese chow mein boasts. This makes perfect sense since this literally is the Philippines’ version of chow mein. Canton is usually stir fried and served with succulent pieces of pork, chicken or shrimps (or a combination of the three) and an assortment of veggies. This delectable meal is best served with a squeeze of calamansi or any type of citrus (lime or lemon) that’s available in your kitchen.
So tell us, which pancit type are you – a bihon or a canton? Maybe you’re more of a pancit palabok, like I am. Whichever noodles you prefer, the PP&B team would like to wish everyone a prosperous and Happy Chinese New Year. Gung Hay Fat Choy, baboy!