Saturday, February 20, 2010

Q&D dinners: Pancit

My mother-in-law makes the most delicious pancit (pronounced PAHN-sit, and also spelled pansit). It is a Filipino noodle dish with vegetables and meat. You could easily make it vegan by simply omitting the meat in the recipe and using your favorite vegan margarine. (All Filipino dishes that don't contain meat contain some sort of animal byproduct... dinuguan, I'm looking at YOU!) Pancit is a regular at family banquets; it is the Filipino equivalent of Utah's ubiquitous funeral potatoes. It is very easy to make and you can use up odd bits of leftover meat if you've got 'em. Tonight's pancit includes three leftover pork chops. Nobody ever eats the leftover pork chops, so I was happy to get some use out of them. Amounts of each ingredient are highly variable. If you really like carrots add more carrots. If you have two or five leftover pork chops, or a pork chop and a chicken breast, just throw it all in; it's very difficult to ruin this dish.

The best noodles to use in pancit are of course the yellowish wheat-and-egg-based pancit canton noodles, which you can pick up at any reputable Asian store. Bean thread noodles are also nice (and free of major allergens), but they are clear when cooked, which makes them look like... well, they may remind the casual observer of icky things. I personally like pancit made with a mixture of pancit canton and bean thread noodles. But you don't have to use special Asian noodles. You can use spaghetti, which is similar to pancit canton except that it doesn't have eggs in it and thus is whitish instead of yellowish. My authentically Filipino mother-in-law has been known to use spaghetti from time to time. If you're gluten free you can use rice spaghetti. You can even use leftover noodles!

And of course, my favorite dishes are all cooked in one pot, because I'm the one who has to wash it afterwards! So I've included directions to make pancit in one pot. You can readily use more than one pot for faster cooking time.


1 pkg bean thread noodles OR 1 lb. spaghetti or pancit canton noodles
broth or bouillon
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 stalks celery
1 large carrot or 2 small carrots
1 small onion
a few cups of leftover cooked meat, chopped into chunks, or 1 large can meat chunks
salt and pepper to taste

Cook your noodles according to package directions, except use broth or bouillon instead of water. If you don't have enough broth to cook the noodles entirely in broth, use a mixture of broth and water. Drain noodles, reserving a couple of cups of cooking liquid.

While noodles cook, chop celery on the diagonal into oblique pieces. Peel the carrot, then use the peeler to shave it entirely into shreds. Chop the onion. While noodles drain, melt butter or margarine in cooking pot. Saute vegetables in butter until softened. Add meat and continue sauteeing until meat is warmed. Add cooked noodles and stir until mixed and heated through. Use reserved cooking liquid to moisten the noodles if necessary to facilitate mixing. Season to taste.

Labels: , , ,