Everything You Need To Know About Making Pancit

Whether it's bihon, canton, or a combination of both, this guide will help you cook it right.

IMAGE Bianca Laxamana

Everyone knows that the pancit is a staple of parties. It's the dish that signifies long life which we adapted from the Chinese. It's a staple as well for merienda. Whether you're looking to have a snack or need something more filling, the pancit can be the meal that satisfies that craving. 

You can bet on it that there are many ways of making and cooking pancit because there are as many variants of this stir-fried noodles as there are different ways and kinds of adobo around the country. However, there are some similarities too in the way that all of these are made. 

Don't make a mistake when cooking your pancit! This guide will help you through every step you need to do to make a delicious meal of pancit

Photo by Aldwin Aspillera

1 Choose your pancit noodles. 

There are many kinds of pancit noodles but not all of them are the same. There are egg noodles which is the most common kind we know. These are best known as pancit canton. The yellow hued-pancit canton is made from flour and eggs and can come as either dried or fresh. Just visit the chilled section of your favorite supermarket or ask your suki at the palengke for the fresh version. 

Then, there are rice noodles. More commonly known as pancit bihon, these thin transparent noodles are made from cornstarch, rice flour, and water. In other Asian countries, these can come in various widths, too. The famous pad Thai is also made with rice noodles but are far thicker than our bihon. These usually need to be softened in some warm or cold water before adding to the dish. 

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The other popular kind of pancit noodle is the sotanghon. These noodles are so similar to pancit bihon that it is commonly mistaken for each other. However, there is a big difference regarding what it is made of: sotanghon is made from dried mung bean or monggo flour and, sometimes, cornstarch. This results in a similar transparent noodle but is hardier in soupy dishes than the bihon. However, just like the bihon, these need to also be soaked first to soften before being used in your dish. 


Photo by Majoy Siason

2 The sahog is all up to you.

When it comes to the toppings for your pancit, there's more than one way to serve it. Toppings can be very minimal to allow the sauce be the star or you can load it up so high with vegetables and chunks of different kinds of meat that it's hard to see if there are any noodles at all. 


Despite how generous you are with the toppings, one thing is certain: you need some stir-fried vegetables, meat, seafood, meatballs, and other ingredients to make it a true pancit. You can even top it off with a fried egg like the mie goreng recipe tells you to do but even that basic recipe has some veggies stirred into with the noodles. 

The key to knowing how to prepare pancit ingredients is this: if you can't eat it with a fork, slice it thinner or chop it smaller. 

Photo by Majoy Siason

3 Stir fry the meats and veggies.

Once you have all your ingredients, time to cook! The first step has to be stir frying the meats, vegetables, and other ingredients before tossing in the noodles. Stir-frying does two things: partially cooks the ingredients so that you are ready to add the noodles, it won't take much longer for the entire dish to cook together. Secondly, stir frying develops flavor. Not only will the veggies become flavorful but the meats will get browned, too. 

Once these are half cooked, time to start on creating even more flavor with the broth. 

A broth should always be flavorful so you can always create the best tasting dishes.
Photo by Patrick Martires

3 Create a delicious broth. 

The broth may just be as essential to the pancit as the rest of its ingredients. That's because the broth will be absorbed by the noodles you choose. Since noodles are naturally neutral in flavor, the broth will become its flavoring. Not only that, any broth that isn't absorbed by the noodles will become part of the sauce that the pancit will sit in. 

You can definitely create your own broth from the bones of pork, chicken, fish, beef, or even leftover stubs of vegetables. All you really need to do is simmer these in water until its flavors are extracted and use this to flavor your pancit dish. 

Photo by Patrick Martires

4 Soften and flavor the noodles. 

When you're to add the noodles, the broth should be simmering. The hot liquid will encourage the noodles to absorb it as it is simmering while softening and tenderizing the noodles even further. This eliminates cooking al dente noodles which should be done only with pasta. 

Once the noodles are in, toss! The noodles should be coated in the liquid and then left to simmer in it. 

Photo by Majoy Siason

5 Season to taste, and serve. 

The noodles are cooked through and the rest of the ingredients are added in. Take this time to taste, and season your wok of noodles with any last remaining flavorings and seasonings. You don't want to overcook the noodles more than you need to. These can become softer, mushier than you would like if you're not careful. 

Once your dish is completely seasoned well and any liquid has reduced to create a sauce, you are ready to serve.

Photo by Patrick Martires

6 Prepare the sawsawan! 

Be ready with the appropriate accompaniments when you do serve your pancit! There is something totally delicious when your squeeze calamansi juice all over your plate of pancit canton. Perhaps someone would love a little more oomph to their plate and need some soy sauce and black pepper sprinkled all over theirs or perhaps some chopped siling labuyo in patis for some salty heat. 

Don't be insulted! These dipping sauces are naturally part of being Asian! Just like salt and pepper are naturally found on tabletops, the Asian tabletop will always have our favorite condiments. 


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