This is a deliciously sweet and savory Bihon Filipino Pancit recipe that’s easy to prepare and ready in less than 25 minutes!
Filipino Pancit Recipe
Do you prefer rice or noodles?
While I absolutely love both, if you held my feet to the fire and made me choose (please don’t do that!) I would choose noodles. Hands down.
Hey, I will always love rice. But there is just so much that can be done with noodles. Heck, just the variety of noodle types available is quite staggering!
Why rice noodles? Well, because to me they feel more delicate and light. Rice vermicilli is just the perfect vehicle for south east Asian flavors (my favorite next to Japanese).
I’m using bihon noodles for this yummy Filipino pancit recipe – although you could use almost any package of rice vermicelli noodles.
What is Pancit Bihon (aka: Bihon Pancit)?
Pancit is a Filipino dish that usually consists of noodles cooked with soy sauce along with some variation of meats and chopped vegetables.
Typically, the term pancit exclusively refers to noodles in Filipino. However, the literal translation, which originated from the Chinese word pien sit, means ready-made food, or cooked food.
During the Spanish colonial times, many Chinese migrants in the Philippines worked as street vendors. They were known as panciteros.
The Chinese panciteros mainly cooked for women who worked in cigar factories. These hard-working women bought meals from panciteros because they had very little time to cook at home.
It was during this time that street food became synonymous with convenience and quality. Noodles – being one of the most convenient to-go, ready made foods – were commonly served at these food stalls.
Well – it’s pretty easy to see why the word pancit eventually took on the meaning it currently has in the Filipino food lexicon.
That’s a little slice of Philippine history for you!
What is the difference between pancit canton and pancit bihon?
Now, while pancit refers to noodles, there are a ton of variations in heavy rotation.
Every pancit recipe is different.
Some are served with boiled eggs and Chinese sausages, while others contain pork and shrimp. Other versions yet have an added citrus flavor – while some are kept super simple and cooked with soy sauce and a little sugar.
Pancit bihon and pancit canton are two of the most popular versions of pancit. While many variations exist even within these two types of pancit, the main difference between the two is the type of noodles used.
- Pancit bihon calls for bihon noodles (thin rice vermicelli, sometimes called rice stick noodles).
- However, in pancit canton, you’ll usually see flour stick noodles used. These pre-fried wheat based noodles are closely related to lo mein noodles.
A third, very popular Filipino noodle recipe is pancit palabok. What stands palabok apart from the crowd is that it calls for rice stick noodles to be covered in a thick shrimp gravy.
Although there are hundreds, if not thousands of different versions of pancit at the local level, one thing remains consistent across the board: noodles signify a long and healthy life. Therefore, noodles should never be cut short.
In light of this symbolism, noodles are commonly served at Filipino birthday celebrations to represent good luck in the years to come.
How to make pancit
When whipping up this yummy Filipino bihon pancit recipe, I like to get all my ingredients laid out in front of me. Doing my mise en place ahead of time frees me up to pay 100% attention to the task at hand.
And while these pancit noodles are a suuuper easy Filipino recipe to execute, I’d hate to overcook one ingredient because I was still busy chopping another 🙂
First, I like to tackle the chicken. Get a pan going over medium heat. Add a bit of oil and pan fry your chicken bits until they are just cooked. Transfer these to a plate and set aside. Don’t worry – we’ll come back to them!
Then, in the same pan, add your garlic and onions and cook for a few minutes – until fragrant.
Now, put your cooked chicken back in the pan with the garlic and onions and season it all with a little salt and pepper. Add the veggies and cook until they’re tender (but still slightly crunchy).
It’s time to add all the sauce elements and bring to a boil.
At this point, let’s add our noodles! Just toss the dry pancit noodles into your pan and let the hot liquid cook them. This is great for two reasons:
- It’s super easy.
- The noodles get a massive infusion of flavor when they get cooked in the sauce (as opposed to being pre-cooked and then just having their outsides coated in the sauce).
The noodles should be cooked (and the sauce should be absorbed) in about 3-4 minutes. However, if the noodles are a bit underdone and all the sauce has been absorbed, add a little stock until the noodles are cooked.
Can I make a vegetarian pancit?
Meat not your thing? It’s all good!
A veggie loaded pancit is a delicious thing indeed.
This bihon pancit recipe is already packed with carrots, cabbage, green beans and scallions. However, there’s no need to stop there!
The more the merrier when it comes to goodness from the garden. You might experiment with adding things like red bell pepper, leeks and broccoli to your own homemade veggie pancit creations.
And if you’re a pescatarian, you could easily substitute the chicken in this recipe for shrimp.
As always, make these recipes work for YOU. Think of my recipes as blueprints. The form is there. Your tastes should dictate the final touches!
What about leftovers?
Oooh… this pancit bihon recipe makes the BEST leftovers!
I’ve seen Ben shoveling cold noodles into his mouth by the light of the refrigerator as a savory midnight snack. No joke, hehe.
While this pancit bihon recipe is great fresh out of the wok – or served cold out of the fridge, it also handles a reheat in the microwave pretty well.
Busy mom? You can even make this yummy pancit recipe ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until it’s time to serve dinner. Zapping it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes should do the trick. You don’t want to reheat it for too long, otherwise the chicken will overcook.
What’s your favorite noodle dish? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Other easy and healthy Asian recipes:
- Honey Sriracha Tofu
- Chicken Egg Foo Young
- Spaghetti Squash Yakisoba Style
- Easy Roasted Chicken Pho
- Vietnamese Beef Meatballs
- Singapore Chow Mei Fun
Did you like this Bihon Filipino Pancit Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!
These recipes constantly make “best dish” lists on sites such as Country Living, Self, Shape, Bon Appetit, The Cooking Channel, Men’s Fitness and Woman’s Day. They are favorites among my readers, friends and family!
Simple and easy dishes made healthier, with calories and fat content provided. Tried and tested by my readers and loved by everyone!