‘] We always celebrate birthdays in our family and so I cooked Pancit Canton- Chinese Noodles Stir-fried with Shrimps and Vegetables. And I make sure we have noodles to symbolize long life and prosperity. Every Filipino birthday celebration has pancit (say “pahn-seet”) or at the very least a noodle or pasta dish. So in keeping with tradition, I made pancit.
When our adult sons come home to visit, I make a conscious effort to make the meal healthy. The tables have turned. My sons, all grown up with their own lives and careers, are now mindful of nutrition and good health. They look for it in the dishes I cook when they’re home. I relish their recipes and photos of food they cook which they share with me. The thought that good health and regular exercise are priorities in my sons’ lives leave me reassured they’ll be fine.
If you’ve never cooked this dish yet, you should give it a quick whirl in the kitchen. Pancit Canton noodles are available in Asian markets here in the USA. Look for it in the Philippine aisle or where all the noodles are found. Since these are classified as dry noodles, you can also find Pancit Canton noodles online like Amazon or Asian supermarket websites.
“The word ‘pancit’ (or ‘pansit’ in some cookbooks) comes from the Hokkien words ‘pian-e-sit’, which means something that is conveniently cooked, and originally did not mean noodles. The noodle dish eventually was adapted to local ingredients, tastes and occasions.” [Doreen G. Fernandez, “The Noodles of Our Lives” from the book ‘Tikim’]
“Pancit Canton are dry Chinese wheat noodles. They are the Philippine adaptation of Chinese noodles. They are dried, yellow strands and are packaged in rectangular blocks. These noodles are made with wheat flour, coconut oil and yellow food color.” (From ‘The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook by Patricia Tanumihardja)
This Pancit Canton dish fit all the requirements my boys wanted. On any day, it is one of my favorite noodle dishes to cook because it is simple, yet offers an array of flavors we all enjoy. The thick, hefty, wheat Chinese noodles expand and look like lo Mein when cooked. The wholesome yellow noodles are a good backdrop to the savory shrimps, crisp vegetables swirling in a silky slurry of Asian sauces and seasonings . This stir fried noodle dish came together in minutes and it was a festive concoction to behold on the large bandejado (oval platter).
Like all happy events, a Filipino pancit dish is always the centerpiece of birthday dinners for us. Whether we spend the day in a big or small way, birthdays are blessings. And each one is meant to be celebrated with an abundance of good food, family, friends and love.
Pancit Canton - Chinese Noodles Stir-fried with Vegetables and Shrimps
- large skillet or wok
- 1/2 pound fresh shrimps medium or large-sized, peeled and washed, heads removed
- juice from 1 large lemon or fresh calamansi juice from Asian markets, about 1 to 2 Tablespoons lemon or calamansi juice (the Filipino lime)
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 Tablespoon Tamari sauce
- 1 large carrot peeled and sliced, about 1 cup
- 1 cup sliced green beans
- 2 whole sayote (chayote), peeled, sliced peeled, sliced in 1-inch pieces
- 12 ounces dried Pancit Canton noodles or about 3 cups when cooked and expands (from Asian markets)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper powder
- 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 cup water for slurry
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch for slurry
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce for slurry
- 2 stalks scallion greens for garnish
- 1/4 cup soy sauce for side dipping sauce
- juice from 1 lemon or 1 Tablespoon fresh calamansi juice the Filipino lime, from Asian markets, for side dipping sauce lemon or calamansi
- Prepare the shrimps by peeling and washing. Pre-marinate shrimps in lemon or calamansi juice. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes (do not marinate longer than this).
- In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil. Stir fry the garlic, onions, celery .
- Add the fresh shrimps to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes .
- Add the vegetable broth and tamari sauce. Bring to a boil. This should take about 3 minutes. Lower heat to a slow simmer and stir. Add the carrots and chayote, and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the green beans. Cook for 2 minutes more.
- Add the dried canton noodles. Mix all ingredients well, making sure the broth coats the noodles so it can soften. The broth will seem plenty at first, but as the canton noodles soften and expand, the liquid gets absorbed and diminishes. Season with black pepper powder and sesame oil. Cover and allow the noodles to cook. This should take about 6 minutes till noodles are soft. Do not overcook or the noodles will get mushy.
- In a separate small bowl, mix together the water, low sodium soy sauce and cornstarch. Add this mixture to the broth so it will thicken. Increase heat slightly till the broth comes to a boil and becomes thick in about 3 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped scallions. Serve piping hot.
- Serve on the side: a dipping sauce of low sodium soy sauce combined with the juice of a lemon (or calamansi, the Filipino lime).
- Cook's Comments: Pancit Canton is a versatile dish. In addition to shrimps, you can add chicken and pork slices. If available, add other vegetables, tofu or mushrooms desired.
- Recipe Notes: Although the photo of the dried noodles package on this post shows the content was 16 ounces, I only used 12 ounces for this recipe, which yielded the right amount of servings for our family of 4.
- Ingredient notes: Tamari is a Japanese gluten-free soy sauce made with 100% soy and contains no wheat. It is just as flavorful as regular salt and when I use it, minimizes the amount of salt needed in a recipe. If not available, use low-sodium or regular soy sauce as a substitute.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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