national noodle month {filipino style}

It’s March 27th, which means there are only a few days left in National Noodle Month.  I kid you not…there is a day and a month for everything apparently.   And who am I to tell all the noodles of the world they can’t have their own month?  This is one of my favorite Filipino dishes, pancit.  I loved it when my grandmother would make this dish, but loved it even more when she made my favorite version – sotanghon, which uses bean thread {cellophane}  noodles instead of rice noodles and has a chicken broth base.  I could eat three bowls – three big bowls, mind you.  Everyone who enjoys pancit likes the variety they grew up with, the one that was made for Sunday dinners and every festive family gathering.  This is the one I like the best, the one my grandmother taught me to make, and the one that reminds me of nice family meals when I was little.

Pancit Sotanghon

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 –  6 oz package of Saifun bean thread noodles
3 tbsp vegetable oil

6 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
½ lb. deveined shrimp
1 tbsp. annatto powder
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
salt + pepper
½ cup green onions, sliced
2 limes, quartered

Boil chicken breast in enough water to cover chicken.  When cooked, remove from broth and set aside to cool; then shred into pieces.  Reserve 2 cups of broth.

Place bean threads in a bowl, covering with warm water.  Let sit for 5 minutes while the rest of the dish is cooking.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, onion and carrots, sautéing  for 4 minutes.  Add chicken, shrimp, annatto powder, fish sauce and soy sauce.  Cook for 1 min. Add chicken broth, raising heat to cook until mixture comes to a boil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Drain noodles and add to skillet, stirring to incorporate. Remove from heat.  Sprinkle green onions over top and serve with lime wedges.

**A few notes, do not worry about ‘not seemingly cooking the bean noodles – the hot soaking water will do the trick.  Adding them at the last stage of cooking the dish will cook them well enough.  Doing anything different will start to break them down and your pancit will turn to mush.  Since the bean threads are so fragile I usually use a silicon spatula or tongs with silicone tips so that the noodles don’t break when they’re added to the skillet and then served.  If you can’t find annatto powder, you can grind annatto seeds, add them to the reserved chicken stock and then strain the stock with a cheesecloth before adding to the mixture.

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