As many of you know, my sweetheart is from Tonga and he often craves Tongan food, or at least something from some islands. I have a wonderful Filipino friend, Mildred, who brought Pancit (a dish of rice noodles, veggies, and chicken) to a barbeque once, and my husband almost left me for her (which would have made things awkward, since she's happily married ...)
A couple of friends have asked for directions on this recipe, which I learned from Mildred. She very graciously took an afternoon to teach me how to make this wonderful dish.
This picture is not mine (because I didn't get a picture of it before my family ate it all), but it is very similar to when I make it. I did grab a few pictures while I was cooking, but didn't get the whole process. I'll do my best to describe it!
I'm not cool enough to make a printable version of this, so you're on your own there. :P
We're going to start by boiling our meat and creating the stock we'll cook everything else in. This time, I used chicken leg quarters, because that's what was cheapest. Bone-in meat gives a better flavor, but the skin adds to the fat content of the dish. I boiled them with skin on and then removed and deboned the meat. Boneless skinless thighs are easier and still have a great flavor; I usually prefer eating white meat chicken, but this dish is so much better with dark meat.
In a large stock pot, place your meat and cover with water. You're going to need 2-3 quarts of stock at the end, so don't be shy about the water. Add about 1/4 cup of GOOD dark soy sauce and 2 chicken flavored Knorr cubes. Don't use Kikkoman, it doesn't work in this recipe (we tried it once, blech). Turn on high and boil until chicken is cooked through.
While chicken is boiling, in an extremely large skillet or electric skillet, put about 2-3 Tbs of vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Smash 6-8 garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife, peel the skin, and put them in the oil. Brown the garlic until slightly caramelized.
While waiting for the chicken and garlic to cook, we're going to cut up the rest of the veggies.
We cheat with the carrots; you'll use about half of a pound of shredded carrots. I sliced up 2 or 3 onions for this. You can add more if you like, or less if onions aren't your thing. You need some onion flavor though. Also roughly chop half a head of green cabbage and 3-4 stalks of celery.
At this point, your chicken should be done. If it's not quite cooked through, it's OK because we're going to cook it again in a minute. So pull it out to cool and let the stock cool as well.
When the garlic is starting to caramelize, add just the onion and cook until it starts to brown.
At this point, your chicken should be ready to handle. Chop it up and add it to the garlic and onions, cooking it long enough to get a little crispy brown.
When the chicken and onions and garlic are brown and delicious, start adding the other veggies, in this order: Celery, cabbage, and carrots. Then add about 2 cups of stock (this doesn't need to be measured).
Now, the stock we made should be pretty tasty, but the sweetness in the veggies sometimes reduces that flavor. After the veggies have cooked for a couple minutes, grab a spoon and taste the stock that is in the skillet. If it's not salty enough, add a little more of the dark soy sauce, then taste again. You'll need to taste again after we add the noodles, so keep some clean spoons nearby.
After the veggies have cooked 5-6 minutes and are about done, pull out about half of the contents of the skillet and set aside. It's time to add the noodles.
This brand was just what the Asian Market had; I buy whatever is cheap. Take it out of the package and, if yours has string holding it together like mine, take the string off. Put the noodles into the skillet and add more stock, about 2 cups.
This is the part I wish I had pictures of -- the noodles soak up that stock and cook in it and, as they do, the "ball" of noodles starts separating. Help them along with a large spoon. Taste the stock again and make sure it is salty enough. Add a little stock at a time (1/4 cup) until all the noodles are separated and cooked. You don't want them swimming in the liquid, but there does need to be enough so they aren't dry or sticking to the pan.
The noodles are just a long mess, so now we'll grab a pair of kitchen shears and cut them into smaller, more manageable pieces. Pull them up with a spaghetti fork and start cutting! You only need to make 10-12 cuts. Mix the noodles and meat and veggies in the pan as best you can.
Add the reserved veggies and meat to the top, serve, and enjoy!
Pancit ingredients (serves 4-8 depending on hunger)
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 Knorr cubes, chicken flavor
Dark soy sauce
6-8 cloves garlic
4-6 stalks celery
1/2 head of cabbage