Isn't amazing when you stumble across the extraordinary in the ordinary? I was at a BBQ last weekend. The host was a former co-worker of Steve's whom I had met briefly on a few occasions. His wife was welcoming and the guests friendly. We sat at a round patio table and chatted about the usual get-to-know-you topics...how hot the summer had been, where each of us lived, Do you have kids? and how we knew the host or hostess.
The table I sat at groaned with an assortment of sour-cream laden dips, a variety of chips, a tray of deviled eggs, a delectable platter of rice balls (fried and filled with mozzarella cheese) and for the main meal...all American burgers and hot dogs. All good, all tasty. But while everyone filled their plates with the usual fare...me....I couldn't get enough of a Filipino dish, a cuisine I'd never eaten before, that a neighbor brought. It was light and delicious, filled with shredded chicken, thin slivers of carrots and rice noodles. So being a true foodie, I hunted cookbooks, the Internet and other resources until I found the recipe for that particular dish.
Filipino food can be described best as a mixture of eastern and western influences that provide a range of rich flavors, color and spices, making Filipino cuisine unique and tempting. It evolved over several centuries from its Malayo-Polynesian origins to a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences adapted to indigenous ingredients and the local palate. It's not spicy and is distinguished by its bold combination of sweet, sour and salty flavors. There's an endless array of dishes that use thinly sliced beef, suckling pig, peanut sauce, coconut and seafood that include catfish, mackerel, crabs, prawns, and oysters.
One widely cooked dish is adobo. It usually consists of pork or chicken in a sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Filipino soups tend to be hearty containing chunks of meat and vegetables or noodles. For noodle dishes there is pancit and ispageti. Pancit boasts noodles, vegetables, and slices of meat or shrimp with variations distinguished by the type of noodles used such as rice or flour. Desserts may consist of mamon, a chiffon-type cake sprinkled with sugar or bite-size buchi made of deep-fried rice flour dough balls filled with a sweet mung bean paste and coated with sesame seeds. (adapted from wikipedia)
There is a wide variety of drinks in the Philippines. The traditional tuba still remains in provinces, which is also used as vinegar if fermented. In addition, brandy, gin and rum are the local favorites as well as a shake that consists of fresh fruit blended with milk, ice and sugar. Chilled drinks and cocktails with tropical fruits are popular during summer. Tea is made from ginger, lemon grass and pandan leaves. (umwlac.com)
After researching, I found that the dish I had at the BBQ is called, Pancit Bihon. So this is the recipe, I'd like to share. It wasn't difficult to prepare and to make it easier, I used 3 cups of rotisserie chicken I purchased from the supermarket. I, also, picked up a package of pre-shredded fresh green cabbage that contained carrots and red cabbage, too. Be sure not to use bagged Cole slaw. I omitted the celery and just before serving, spooned out the liquid into a bowl to be served at the table. I did this because the Pancit Bihon at the BBQ was dry and I wanted my meal to be as close to the original as possible.
**A note about recipe photo...Filipinos do not use chopsticks. Traditionally, like those from India, they use their fingers to scoop food, esp. dry food, into their mouths (see my blog- Indian Cuisine: A Feast For The Senses) but the primary pairing of utensils used at a Filipino dining table is a spoon and fork not knife and fork. Personally, I enjoy using chopsticks with food that have an Asian flare, so I did with this dish...besides, the chopsticks looked decorative on the plate.
1 pack (8 oz) pancit bihon noodles (rice sticks)
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cabbage, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/3 cup scallions, cut into pieces
1 carrot, sliced into strips
3/4 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Soak the pancit bihon noodles in hot, lightly salted water to soften for 10 minutes or follow package directions.
Grease a large pan or wok with oil. Sauté garlic and onions.
Add the chicken broth, shredded chicken breast and all the vegetables until cooked.
Mix in the pancit bihon noodles and add the soy sauce.
Cook for about 5 minutes or until the noodles are soft.
Serve hot with sliced calamansi on the side. Calamansi or lemon is to be squeezed into the pancit bihon before eating
Serves 4. Prep & cook time 45 min.
**Remember to Make Memories At The Table