As I prepared the ingredients to cook this Pancit Sotanghon with Shrimps, Ham and Vegetables, I looked out the window and noticed the snow came in three parts. It was a snow storm of epic proportions. Heavy snow poured down on us here on the east coast three different times in a span of 24 hours. It was an avalanche. We were left with over two feet or 24 inches of snow to shovel off the driveway before it turned to a whole layer of ice. The thought of ice scares me. Picture a thick layer of ice in your freezer when it needs defrosting. Yes, it looks like that. Now try walking on that with an ordinary pair of shoes. You will fall and break your neck.
When friends back in the Philippines see photos I post on Facebook and social media about all the snow we are getting this winter, I get comments like “how I wish I could have your weather.” Indeed the grass is always greener on the other side. In this case, folks in tropical countries think the snow is adorable in these parts. It is not. It even becomes lethal at some point. And don’t get me started on the expense of heating oil, ice melt to thaw the driveway, damage on your property, the problem of child care if school is cancelled, the loss of work days, consequently loss of income expected, and all that comes with it.
Why do we always think someone’s life is always better? It never really is. What we have in our lives is always far better than what someone else is experiencing today, this minute. I am guilty of this. But I try hard to take stock at the end of the day. I have yet to start a gratitude journal. I do it mentally these days for lack of time. Just before bedtime, I look back at what I did today and this week. I count how many blessings have come my way. There are so many, they outweigh my complaints about the snow, ice and bitter cold.
One of the blessings I am always grateful for is when someone in the family celebrates a birthday. This week is my younger son’s birthday. I always prepare a noodle or ‘pancit’ dish for the occasion. No matter how grown up my boys are now, we try to reconnect, get together and celebrate. And always, a noodle dish is mandatory. Noodles symbolize long life, prosperity and good fortune. Even the heavy snowfall was a reason to celebrate. After all, life continues and each day is a blessing. Each day is a reason to celebrate.
Pancit Sotanghon Noodles with Ham and Vegetables
- large skillet or wok
- 1 bundle (16 ounces) sotanghon (cellophane noodles) pre-soaked in water, 2 cups of noodles if uncooked
- 1/2 pound fresh large shrimps peeled, deveined
- 2 cloves garlic peeled, minced
- 1 whole whole medium onion chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 4 Tablespoons patis (fish sauce); divided half for cooking, rest for side dipping sauce
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup cooked ham sliced in 1-inch strips
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 2 cups snap peas washed, edges trimmed
- 1 Tablespoon calamansi or lemon juice
- 1 to 2 stalks scallion greens chopped (about 1/3 cup), for garnish,
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper powder
- To prepare noodles: If there are any, cut off the string which ties together the bundles of cellophane noodles. In a medium sized bowl filled with water, soak the sotanghon noodles for about 20 minutes. Do not pre-soak noodles longer than this amount of time or they get mushy while cooking.
- To prepare shrimps: Peel, devein and wash the fresh shrimps. Set aside.
- After 20 minutes, drain the water from the noodles. Let the noodles rest on a colander and set aside for later.
- To stir-fry: In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add the cooking oil. After 1 to 2 minutes when the oil is hot enough, saute the garlic, onions, celery. Once the onions are transparent, in about 2 minutes, add the peeled shrimps. Pour in the ‘patis’ (fish sauce) and soup stock or broth.
- When the shrimps are cooked and turn pink, in about 8 to 10 minutes, add the cooked ham strips and carrots. Blend ingredients well. Then add the snow peas which should take 3 to 5 minutes to cook. Do not overcook the snow peas or they will not be crunchy.
- Add the pre-soaked noodles to the skillet. Incorporate well with the rest of the ingredients, making sure the liquid coats the noodles evenly. Continue cooking for 5 minutes more. You will notice the soup stock will get absorbed by the noodles in a few minutes and that is okay. Season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice all over the noodles. Garnish with scallions if desired. Serve with a side of fish sauce mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice.