the title of this post says i love pancit, in tagalog, my mama's native language. unfortunately, neither my sister nor i ever learned to speak the language because we were mean, impatient little girls and we didn't take mom seriously when she tried to teach us. naughty little 5 year old jackie!
although i can't speak tagalog, what i can do is immerse myself in my culture, in my kitchen, through food.
pancit is traditional filipino fare that i grew up eating, both at home and at the many, many, many potlucks that we went to as a family. we lived in a small northern california town that was predominately caucasian, but somehow, the filipino men and women of our community found each other and began friendships that have lasted a lifetime. my parents can still be found most weekends at louella or mila or my parent's house, eating dinner together and playing mahjong til the break of dawn.
those crazy filipino ladies will play that game until 1:00 in the morning, with the poor, bored, listless husbands retelling the same stories over and over, watching television and trying to entertain themselves until, for the love of all that is good, its time to go home!
i have also formed a lifelong friendship from the days of family potlucks. my sweet, witty, intelligent and beautiful friend, natalie, was at every one of those potlucks with my sister and i, eating pancit and lumpia, playing badminton and making halo-halo, full of shaved ice, young coconut, jackfruit and coconut milk. oh, yum. she is the daughter of one of the couple's that we potlucked with and we have known each other since i was just a small filipino girl with an unfortunate mono-brow (thank you, universe, for tweezers!).
my husband and i are close friends with natalie, her (witty and sarcastic and kind) husband, jeff and their 3 lovely children. the speer family is part of our wolf pack. when we lived in sacramento, we could be found most weekends having a cocktail, or three, with the speer family (and the cervantes family. also part of our wolf pack) at their place or ours. the entertainment was different than what our parents do, but its the same type of tightly knit group of people- getting together to break bread, have a few drinks and sing some (bad, drunken, loud) karaoke.
in fact, we are headed to santa barbara in a couple days to visit the speer family. they just recently moved there and our hearts have been a little low just knowing that they are so far away and that its not just a quick drive to sacramento anymore, to see them and get the pack together. we look forward to spending time with them, our peeps, and of course visiting their gorgeous city.
and really, it all started with filipino food. with pancit.
who knows? maybe i will bring them some.
for this recipe i used 1/2 the pkg of noodles and it made enough for about 6 servings. if you want to get wild and use the entire package, be prepared to end up with about 10-12 servings. filipinos urgently have the need to feed, so they cook in large quantities, i call it potluck quantities. you will be a popular potluck guest if you bring this dish. if you happen to bring some lumpia, too, you will be
the new best friend of everyone there. i promise.
this is my mama's recipe, i'm pretty sure each family has their own spin on it. sometimes she adds shrimp and that is delicious, too. i think this could be delicious made vegetarian- omit the chicken, use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock, add shredded cabbage ( i will add cabbage next time to amp up the veggie to noodle ratio) and maybe some of those adorable little baby corn on the cobs.
3T olive oil
3 cups snow peas, ends snapped off
3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 medium yellow onion, cut into slivers
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, rinsed well, diced
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
2 chicken breasts, roasted and shredded
low sodium soy sauce (start with 3T and add more to taste)
saute the onion, garlic and celery in 2T olive oil in a large pan, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
in a separate pan, saute the carrots and snow peas in 1T olive oil over medium heat until done to your liking. we like the veggies with a little bite, so al dente, about 10 minutes.
add 1 cup chicken broth, 1 cup water and 3T soy sauce to the onion and garlic mixture. bring to a simmer over medium heat and add the dried noodles. let the noodles soften and gently use a wooden spoon to break them up. if there isn't enough liquid, add another 1/2 cup of water or chicken stock (repeat if you need more liquid. you aren't going for soupy or very saucy, you just want enough liquid to cook the noodles). stir the noodles pretty consistently, turning them over, to help them get moved around and cooked all the way through. this will take about 15 minutes. taste and add more soy sauce if you want to.
make sure and test several noodles from different parts of the pan before deciding that they are done. mine were a tad too al dente for daniel's taste.
when they are done, add in the carrots, snow peas and chicken and use tongs to combine. taste again, adding more soy sauce, or a sprinkling of salt, if the dish needs it.
i like my pancit with a few squirts of fresh lemon juice and piled on a small scoop of jasmine rice. you can omit the rice (we did last night to cut down on carbs) or you can use brown rice, but i think the traditional white rice it best here.