Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Heading Farther East in my Cuisine

I haven't title this a "challenge" because I've made this dish a number of times before. I believe this dish originates in China but is more well-known as a Filipino dish. It's called pancit and is something that my mom often cooked for me growing up. It's kind of like fried rice in the sense that it consists of meat and lots of veggies, but instead of being cooked with rice, the meat and veggies are cooked with rice noodles! The rice noodles, also called rice sticks, are probably the only ingredient you might have to search for a little bit. I have to say though, for years, I was only able to get the rice sticks at my local (if you can call a 45-minute drive "local") Asian food store. I'm happy to say though that I have recently seen rice sticks in my local grocery store (in the ethnic food aisle!) Yea! Okay, before I write out the recipe, here are a couple of things you should know:

(1) Because this is like a stir fry or fried rice, you can really put whatever you want in it so don't feel like you can't do this recipe if you don't have everything listed -- improvise! Also, change the veggie/meat amts to your liking.

(2) I use chicken in the recipe. How you choose to cook it is up to you. You can poach and then reserve the water to cook the noodles in OR you can roast the chicken and then just use a different liquid to cook the noodles in. For the recipe, I'll explain using the second option.

(3) The rice sticks package says to just cook in water, but what you need to know is that the rice sticks cook like pasta in the sense that they absorb the flavors of the liquid they are cooked in. So just like you have to salt water when cooking pasta, flavor the water you cook these rice sticks in. You can use soy sauce, throw a few chicken or beef bouillon cubes in the water, or use chicken or beef stock instead. It'll make a big difference! Okay, here we go!

Pancit (recipe from my mom and my aunt)

-2-3 carrots, finely diced
-2-3 celery stalks, finely diced
-½ head of cabbage, finely chopped
-1 yellow onion, finely diced
-2-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2-4 chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, or legs)
-3-4 Tablespoons soy sauce
-1 package rice sticks
-2 quarts water or stock
-1-2 lemons, quartered for garnishing


1. Roast chicken pieces: Cover chicken pieces in olive oil. Salt and pepper liberally and roast in oven. (Time and temp will vary depending on type of meat -- light vs. dark. I use split chicken breasts (skin on and bone in,) and roast at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.) When finished roasting, allow to cool. When meat is able to be handled, remove skin and shred.

2. Begin cooking noodles. Boil about 2 qts liquid in a sauce pan. For the liquid you may use water that is flavored with a tablespoon or so of soy sauce, or you may use chicken or beef stock instead. Once the liquid is boiling, submerge the rice noodles in the liquid, cover, and turn off heat. Allow noodles to soak for 10 minutes.

3. In the meantime, saute garlic and onion in olive oil for a few minutes in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.

4. Add carrots and celery. Cover for 2-3 minutes.

5. Uncover and add cabbage. Add about 2 tablespoons soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes.

6. Add chicken, stirring and allowing to heat through. Combine with noodles and mix.

Serve with lemon wedges. (Squeeze the juice on top for some extra fresh flavor!)

This is both one of my and my husband's favorite dishes and it is so easy to make! I hope you give it a try sometime!

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