Although I grew up in Washington, DC, I learned a new fact yesterday about my wonderful town. The Smithsonians are all open on New Year’s Day! We had planned to go downtown so our son Ken could take a picture of the Washington Monument for a “then-and-now” history report on urban change that resulted from the Progressive movement. I figured we’d just drive around to the other monuments and then head home, but Ken googled to see if the Smithsonians were open. We decided to go to the Freer because both Kurt and Ken are intrigued by Asian art and sculpture. I always enjoy the Freer because it’s a smaller and less-visited Smithsonian institution than say, the Air and Space museum.
Ken brought his Christmas present– a 3DS-XL and his favorite new “game,” Art Academy. I love this app; he can use the game’s existing pictures or take his own photos to use as images to practice his drawing technique. With his stylus, he has access to various tools, e.g., pencil, pastel, colored pencil, and paint, as well as the ability to mix his own colors. Within 15 minutes of walking through the galleries, he decided he wanted to try his hand at creating a drawing of one of the sculptures. He’s something to watch– forcing dimension out of white space by adding lowlights and shadows, playing with tones and details. I’ll never be able to do that, and like all moms, am so proud of his ability.
By the time we got home, we decided we’d rather nap than eat. We ended up eating the leftover pork and I delayed our New Year’s noodle dish, Filipino pancit, to today. Pancit is both a national and regional in the Philippines. Every province has its own variation; my favorite kind is not the one I learned to make from my parents, but one made with fatter, spaghetti-like noodles that are topped with crumbled fried pork rinds (chicharones) and some kind of dried fish. You eat it with a squeeze of lemon and I just love it!
My version of pancit is more national in nature– a genericized version that you see at most Filipino home parties. I vary what I use each time, but in general, I make pancit with meat, vegetables and rice sticks that are called bihon. I buy them at the local Asian mart in the noodle section. The main seasonings are Filipino soy sauce, onions, garlic, scallions and a little fish sauce, patis. In the past, I’ve used a lot of oil when cooking the noodles (which are pre-soaked in hot water), but lately I’ve moved to using chicken stock to lower the fat content.
There’s a lot prep, but once everything is chopped and the noodles are soaked, it’s a matter of minutes to bring everything together. Overall, it’s a tasty dish that my family enjoys any time of the year.
- 1 lb dried bihon noodles (rice sticks)
- 5 red Chinese sausages, cooked and sliced fairly thin
- 1/2 to 3/4 lb pork, sliced into very thin strips
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped (aim for 1 TB)
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 or 4 scallions, green and white parts sliced thin
- 1/4 lb snow peas, left whole or julienned
- 1 large carrot, julienned or thinly sliced
- 1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 red pepper, sliced into little sticks (optional– I had it leftover in my crisper drawer)
- 3 TB Filipino soy sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce (patis – anchovy sauce) or to taste
- 2 to 2 1/2 c chicken broth to cook noodles
Slice the vegetables; smaller is better.
Slice the pork and season with salt and pepper.
Cook the Chinese sausage in a little water then let them brown.
When cool, slices the sausages thinly on the diagonal.
When you’re ready to assemble the dish, place the rice sticks in a large bowl and cover with very hot water. Let them soak at least 5 minutes prior to cooking.
In a big saute pan or pot, heat some oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute til golden.
Add the carrots and cook until softened, another 3-5 minutes, depending on size.
Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Add the snow peas and mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms have released most of their juices.
Remove the vegetables to a bowl or plate so you can cook the pork.
If pan looks dry, add a little more oil, and let it get hot. Add the sliced pork and saute, stirring frequently, until cooked through.
Add the vegetables into the pot with the pork, then pour in the chicken stock. Let the stock come to a simmer.
Drain the soaking noodles and add to the pot. Add the soy sauce and continue cooking the noodles until they are done, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent noodles from sticking to the pan. The noodles should absorb the stock; however, add more stock as needed if the noodles are not fully cooked and the liquid has been fully absorbed.
Add the sausage and patis; taste for seasoning. Sprinkle the scallions on top and toss once again.
Serve– and don’t let people pick out just the Chinese sausage slices!