After living in the city for 30 years, EC moved to the countryside. He writes about life in the mountains, dogs, plants, and cooking.
What Is Pancit?
Considered to be a national dish of the Philippines, pancit refers to any of a wide range of quickly cooked noodle dishes. The word pancit comes from the Chinese for "convenient food." According to legend, a Chinese trader brought pancit to the Philippines long ago—and ever since then, the dish has been a staple food for Filipinos. The Chinese belief that noodles symbolize long life was also imported to the Philippines, which explains why this dish is traditionally served for birthdays, as well as other celebrations like graduations, weddings, and fiestas.
What Is Pancit Miki?
Miki is a specific type of noodle, so pancit miki refers to a noodle dish made with miki noodles. These noodles come in different shapes and thicknesses; they can be flat or round, and the round noodles can be thin, medium, or thick. Before cooking, miki must be washed with hot water. I recommend washing twice in order to remove the bitter taste of apog (lime), which is used to keep the noodles from sticking together in the packaging.
My Pancit Miki Recipe
I was inspired to make this recipe one day when I spotted fresh miki noodles at the store. I decided to buy the thick round noodles because I hadn't tried them before. This type of miki is often cooked as pancit lomi, but I decided to cook it as pancit miki.
To prepare this dish I used the vegetables that are traditionally included, such as sweet peas, carrots, and cabbage. I also added boiled pork and fried tokwa (tofu). I decided to prepare a small bowl of cornstarch with water because I wanted a thick sauce; however, next time, I won't do this because the noodles became a bit gooey during the cooking.
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 cups pork, boiled and fried
- 5 squares tokwa (tofu), fried and cubed
- 1 small carrot, peeled and cut diagonally
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup sweet peas, trimmed
- 2 cups pork stock
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch, stirred into 1 cup water (optional)
- 500 grams miki, washed twice in hot water
- 1/2 head cabbage, cut in medium squares
- In a pan, heat oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Once the garlic turns golden, add the onions. It is important to cook both the garlic and onion before adding the next ingredient.
- Add the pork and tokwa (tofu) to the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes while stirring frequently to avoid sticking.
- Add the carrots and soy sauce. Cover and let it boil over low heat. Add the sweet peas.
- Add the pork stock, salt and pepper, and optional cornstarch mixed in water. Cover and turn the heat to high.
- When you begin to smell a delicious aroma, add the miki noodles. Mix thoroughly. It helps to have two ladles to stir the noodles in a circular motion. Cover again and turn the heat to low.
- When the noodles have plumped up, fold in the cabbage. Simmer for 1 minute until the cabbage is limp. Turn off the heat.
- Serve hot with rice or bread. We enjoyed ours with steamed rice.
The Popularity of Pancit in the Philippines
Pancit is so easy and versatile that many Filipinos cook it at home. To make it even easier to prepare, many companies have developed instant noodle versions with powdered seasoning packets that are widely available in the stores. Because my family lives far from town, I have a pantry full of different kinds of pancit, including canton, bihon, and sotanghon (vermicelli).
Pancit is sometimes prepared in combinations like canton/bihon, bihon/miki, sotanghon/canton, or sotanghon/miki. Typically, the combinations represent a contrast: thick and thin, or white and yellow, for example.
Pancit miki is one of the more popular varieties because it is cheaper than some of the others, including bihon and canton. Local eateries serve miki cooked with squid balls, kikiam (pork and vegetable sausage), shrimp, pork, or other kinds of meat. Traditional vegetables include sweet peas, baguio beans (green beans), pechay baguio (Chinese cabbage), cauliflower, broccoli, chayote, carrots, cabbage, and any type of leafy green.
Below are photos of some of the many types of pancit that are popular in the Phlippines.
Different Types of Pancit
© 2020 EC Mendoza