Considered by some to be the true national dish of the Philippines, pancit is the most well known Filipino noodle dish. There are dozens of regional pancit varieties across the many islands. Pancit bam-i is a lesser known variety that’s criminally underrated. Combining the popular pancit canton with sotanghon noodles results in a unique eating experience that’s crazy addicting and unique to pancit bam-i. This recipe is an easy one-pot process that still remains authentic.Jump to Recipe
Pancit bam-i incorporates two different noodles. The first is sotanghon noodles, a super fine mung bean noodle. These noodles need to be soaked in room temperature water for at least 5 minutes before cooking. This noodle is different from bihon, aka vermicelli noodles, that are made of rice flour. However, in a pinch bihon can be used as a substitute. The second type of noodles are canton noodles. Canton noodles are wheat noodles that are cooked before being dried, which means they cook very fast and can be cooked directly in the pancit broth without adding too much starch. This can be substituted with chow mein noodles or even plain spaghetti in a pinch, but just be sure to cook them separately according to package instructions.
Boring old chicken breast can be improved with one secret technique: velveting. Velveting is a Chinese cooking technique I borrowed for this recipe. Velveting entails coating the meat with cornstarch and enough liquid to dissolve it. The cornstarch mixes with the moisture and coats the individual pieces in a protective starch coating. This has two main purposes. Firstly, the starch absorbs moisture in the pan, making it easier to sufficiently brown the meat without drying it out. Secondly, when starch combines with the flavorful liquid it forms a satisfyingly moist coating on the outside of the meat, similar to rendered fat. When coating thinly sliced meat, even chicken breast can taste impossibly juicy.
Carrot, cabbage, and green beans are main vegetables. One thing that made my lola’s pancit standout from the rest was how crisp and fresh tasting the vegetables were. The carrots, cabbage, and beans still had a bite to them that contrasted beautifully with the soft chewy noodles. Her secret: cook the vegetables separately and then add them back at the end. This ensures each vegetable gets the perfect amount of cooking it needs. She sauteed them, but I find that I get more consistent results by parboiling them. Plus, parboiling preserves the vibrant colors which pop out wonderfully in the final product.
- Velveted Chicken
1 medium chicken breast, thinly sliced
½ tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 medium carrot, julienned
4-6 oz cabbage, chopped bite sized
4-6 oz green beans, chopped bite sized
½ white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chinese sausage, sliced into bite sized pieces
1-2 cups water
1 chicken boullion cube
3 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemons or calamansi
1 tbsp neutral cooking oil
- Cut the chicken into thin slices, add cornstarch, 1 tbsp soy sauce, and a little water if needed to dissolve the starch. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Add green beans to boiling water and set a timer for four minutes. Add cabbage at the two minute mark. Lastly, add carrots when thirty seconds remain. Drain and set aside.
- Place sotanghon noodles in a bowl and cover with regular tap water, let soak for 5 minutes. Remove remaining water from pan with clean towel or heat.Add neutral cooking oil and saute onion and garlic on medium heat until onion is soft, about 2 minutes. Add chinese sausage and chicken and fry until some browning forms, roughly 3 minutes. Add shrimp and fry for an additional minute.
- Add enough water to cover. Stir in chicken bouillon and soy sauce. Bring water to a boil and then add sotanghon noodles and let cook for 2 minutes, mixing frequently. Add the canton noodles. Stir frequently, making sure all the noodles are evenly exposed to the boiling broth. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add back the carrot, cabbage and beans. Mix and cook for an addition 1-2 minutes or until no pool of liquid at the bottom of the pan remains.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Squeeze fresh lemon or calamansi over the top and serve with additional lemon slices.