Why is Pancit a Birthday Dish in Filipino Tradition?

Who is celebrating a birthday today? or Is there someone celebrating a birthday today ? These are the typical questions when a Filipino sees pancit being served on the table. Serving pancit in birthdays is a tradition which identifies a Filipino family from all others in the world. The Filipinos love pancit very much that we have restaurants serving pancit as a specialty and we call it panciteria.

At home before I got married, my mother always serve pancit in all our celebrations and she never allowed our birthday to pass without that delicious delicacy. I can say that I and my two younger siblings will never find my mother’s pancit unappetizing no matter how much and how frequent we eat it.

What is pancit ?

I am not actually sure but many say that cooking pancit is an offshoot from the influences of Spanish and Chinese cuisine combined. We got the  noodles from Chinese culture while we got the sautéing way of cooking from Spanish cuisine. So, pancit is truly, a Filipino recipe.

It is a delicacy with different kind of noodles which is used to identify the type of pancit, for example pancit bihon uses bihon noodles while pancit canton uses canton noodles. Both types use soy sauce as flavouring and may have sautéed carrots, cabbage, pork and shrimp in the recipe.

There are three other types of pancit that are almost similar and may be hard to distinguish from each other. They are pancit luglog, pancit malabon and pancit palabok. They all have orange to yellow sauces and toppings of seafoods and boiled eggs. Here is how  I identify each. Pancit Palabok uses bihon as noodles, Pancit Luglug and Pancit Malabon uses thick and rounded noodles like canton but it is white in color and a little firmer. The difference between the two pancits is the sauce used. Luglug uses shrimp broth while pancit Malabon uses Aligue or Crab paste that is why it is stickier. This recipe using Alique originated from Malabon thus the pancit is called pancit Malabon.

Why is Pancit a Favorite Birthday Dish?

The answer I will tell you came from my mother. Aside from the fact that it is easy to cook, she said that Filipinos believe that Pancit noodles symbolize long life and the rich and delicious toppings symbolize good fortune. And so serving Pancit is another way of praying for a long and fortunate life for the birthday celebrator.

How to cook Pancit ?

Our favourite pancit at home is mixed pancit bihon and canton, I will share with you how I cook it in seven easy steps.

First step is to slice pork into small pieces. Soak in water with salt (at least 3 tsps). Put it aside.

Second step is to boil 250 gram of bihon noodles and 250 grams canton noodles in a casserole or any cooking pot for few minutes. Ensure noodles are soft and edible by biting few pieces before draining and putting aside. Sometimes I add shredded celery to add flavor and good smell. Don’t forget to stir the noodles thoroughly

Bihon with Canton Noodles

Third step is to mince 1 onion and 5 cloves of garlic,   chop 1 medium size carrots into very small cubes or into thin sticks , slice around 200 gram of cabbage, slice  green beans (commonly known as Baguio beans in the Philippines) diagonally and chop 1 medium size bell pepper  thinly.

Fourth Step is to drain pork previously soaked in water and salt. Put in the pan then add half cup of water. Let it boil and let the oil comes out from the meat. If you notice oil in the water and meat is already tender, add garlic. Stir for a minute or two then add onion then stir again.

Fifth step is to add the carrots, beans and pepper with constant stirring until vegetables are cooked. This is around 2 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage.

Sixth Step is to add half cup of soy sauce and a teaspoon of pepper then stir for few more minutes.

Seventh step is to stir in the noodles. Stir until all noodles are covered with soy sauce.  Add soy sauce if needed. If it gets too salty, you may add sugar and stir.  Then serve.

Optional step is to add squid balls and/or  kikiam when sautéing the vegetables. You may also add dimsum  as topptings. In the picture above, the pancit is topped with steamed siomai.

That’s how I cook pancit for my family. I hope you liked this article. If you did please share it with your friends and together let us share True Home Joy.

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