Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles)|Recipes Spots

  • on January 30, 2023
Two Bowls with Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles) on a Placemat Next to a Bowl of Cracked Pepper

Two Bowls with Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles) on a Placemat Next to a Bowl of Cracked Pepper
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

Pancit bihon guisado is a classic Filipino stir-fried noodle dish that’s a layer of flavors and textures in every bite. The dish includes silky noodles, robust bite-sized pork, crunchy vegetables, and the savory aroma of patis (fish sauce) mixed with the citrus sweetness of calamansi. Put it all together and you have a colorful and flavorful one-dish meal.

Pancit is a celebratory dish, one that is served for family get-togethers and to celebrate milestones, especially birthdays. Our elders often say the noodles invite long life and prosperity, so I cook pancit when we gather to celebrate life’s special moments.

Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles) in a Wok and Two Servings in Two Bowls at a Table Setting with Utensils and an Empty Bowl
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

What Is Pancit Bihon?

Also known as bihon guisado to Filipinos, the word bihon comes from the Hokkien word “bi,” for rice and “hun” for flour. The term pancit is Tagalog, and its Chinese Hokkien origins mean “pian” for ready and “e-sit” for food. 

Bihon are thin thread-like noodles made with rice flour or flour mixed with rice and corn. They are dry, stiff, and semi-transparent when uncooked. As they cook and soften, the noodles turn translucent.

Pancit bihon is also called pancit guisado, the latter meaning sautéed. Guisadong pancit means the noodles are sautéed with strips of meat and vegetables. Sometimes, both pork and chicken are used. Other times, shrimp is added or sweet Chinese sausage (lap cheong) is mixed in.

According to the late Doreen G. Fernandez (pioneer Filipino food writer), the original Hokkien term for pancit (pian-e-sit) meant a conveniently cooked dish and did not necessarily mean noodles. Fernandez stated that the noodle dish was adapted to local ingredients and flavors. In the book “Republic of Taste”, Philippine culinary historian Guillermo Ramos explained that the Chinese from Fujian brought pancit to the Philippines.

How To Cook Pancit

Asian dishes like pancit are built around multiple layers of meat, seafood, and vegetables, often grown in one’s backyard. Everything is chopped to bite-sized proportions for quick cooking and ease when eating.

My mother taught me a good sauté is the base of a delicious dish. That is essentially how to cook pancit. I also boil the pork first in water and seasonings to get the best flavor, saving the broth for the stir-fry to flavor the noodles. 

Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles) in a Wok with a Spatula
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

In my grandmother’s time, the meat simmered slowly for hours on the stovetop, and the stock was used for dishes like this one. I have shortened the cooking time, but still get the meaty goodness needed to give pancit bihon depth.

Shortcuts for Quicker Pancit

For a quicker cooking time, you can skip boiling the pork until soft and go straight to stir-frying the chopped meat with the vegetables. If you do this, you won’t have the flavorful broth from the pork and you will need more time to stir-fry meat. Use store-bought chicken broth or water for the liquid in the stir-fry.

You can also save time at dinnertime by making the pork ahead of time. I pre-boil the pork a few days ahead, then freeze the meat and broth for another day. When it’s time to make pancit, I defrost both and they are ready for the stir-fry.

Recipe Variations

This is a versatile noodle dish. You can add other vegetables like napa cabbage, bean sprouts, broccoli, bok choy, snow peas, sugar snap peas, or leafy greens. 

For a plant-based version, omit the pork and fish sauce and use vegetable broth or water in place of the pork broth. The flavors of a good sauté of vegetables and noodles with a spritz of citrus and soy sauce can make the dish just as delectable without meat.

Close-up: Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles)
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

One-Dish Stir Fry Dinners

  • Spicy Tofu Stir Fry
  • Beef and Broccoli Ramen Stir Fry
  • Pork Stir Fry With Green Onions
  • Shrimp and Mushroom Stir Fry
  • Moo Goo Gai Pan

Cook the pork:

Using a sharp knife, trim off and discard any excess fat from the pork.

In a medium-sized stockpot, combine the pork with about 3 cups of water, or enough to cover the meat. Sprinkle with salt and ground pepper.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cover and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until tender, about 45 minutes. 

Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pork broth for the stir-fry. When the meat is fork-tender, remove from the liquid and let it rest on a cutting board for about 10 to 15 minutes to cool. Slice the pork into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

Slab of Pork Boiling in a Dutch Oven for Pancit Bihon Recipe
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu
Fork Poking Slab of Pork to Check if Tender for Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles) Recipe
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu
Pyrex Measuring Cup Used to Reserve Some of the Pork Broth for Pansit Bihon Recipe
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu
Cubes of Pork on the Counter for Filipino Rice Noodles Recipe
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

Soften the bihon noodles:

Place the dry noodles in a large bowl. Pour some water into a small bowl, and use your fingers to sprinkle water over the noodles until they become damp. Continue sprinkling water until the noodles get soft and pliable but not mushy. Set aside.

Pancit Bihon Noodles in a Bowl Sprinkled with a Little Bit of Water for Filipino Rice Noodles with Pork Recipe
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

Stir fry the vegetables:

Place a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, onion, celery, and the white parts of the green onion and stir fry until soft and fragrant, for about 2 minutes. 

Add the patis (fish sauce). Add the carrot and green beans and stir fry until beginning to soften. Add the shredded cabbage and toss well.

Onions, Green Onions, Celery, and Garlic Added to a Work for Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles)
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu
Carrots and Green Beans Added to Wok for Pancit Bihon with Pork Recipe
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu
Shredded Cabbage Added to Wok with Other Pancit Bihon Ingredients
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

Add the pork, noodles, and sauce:

Add the sliced, cooked pork to the mixture. Add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved pork broth, the toyo (soy sauce), and calamansi juice. Stir to mix.

Add the damp bihon noodles. Combine the noodles and the rest of the ingredients well.

Cover the pan with a lid. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the noodles soften and blend well with the ingredients. The white noodles will become translucent as they cook and the broth will coat the noodles and give them a light brown hue. The broth eventually gets absorbed by the noodles the longer it simmers and should result in a dry pancit noodle dish. This will take 8 to 10 minutes total.

Pork Cubes Added after Vegetables Wilted for Pancit Bihon
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu
Bihon Noodles Added to Pancit Bihon in Wok
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

Season and serve:

Sprinkle salt and pepper all over, to taste. Garnish with the green parts of the green onions.

Serve warm with a dipping sauce of patis mixed with calamansi juice.

Pancit bihon is best when served soon after it is cooked. If there are any leftovers, store pancit in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to a day. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. It is not advisable to freeze pancit bihon because the noodles will get watery and the vegetables wilt.

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Salt and Pepper Added to Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles) in a Wok
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu
Two Bowls with Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles) on a Placemat Next to a Bowl of Cracked Pepper
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu
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