Birthdays happen in big batches in our family so I often cook a celebratory dish like this Pancit Sotanghon Noodles with Chicken and Tofu. During May to June, our family celebrates birthdays and anniversaries in a matter of days apart. And when our friends are having birthdays throughout the year we are celebrating with food all the time. I like to cook or bake gifts to give to friends having a birthday. My favorite thing to cook are noodles. They also happen to be the easiest dish to make. Often, it makes for a unique gift.
A noodle dish enjoyed during birthdays symbolize long life and prosperity for Filipinos and most Asians. It is a must that we have a noodle dish for birthdays. It is also considered ‘good luck’ for the birthday celebrant when all of us are eating noodles or pancit. So whether I’m cooking or we’re eating out, the first thing I do is plan which noodle dish we’ll have at the family meal.
My virtual friends, the “Let’s Lunch” group of food authors, writers and chefs are like family, too. We meet every month online. For this month, we are celebrating the birthday of Cheryl Tan, successful author and one of the founders of this lively virtual group who meet regularly to share recipes and stories posted on our respective blogs.
I cooked Pancit Sotanghon to honor Cheryl. It is a staple dish in Filipino homes. One finds the recipes in almost all Philippine cookbooks. For me, it is the easiest to make of all the “pancit” (noodles) dishes. I have also successfully taught many friends how to cook this dish. On other occasions, I have brought this as a potluck dish for friends and it has been a hit.
The recipe below is a combination from several cookbooks we’ve had in the family and I have added my own ingredients to come up with the right “sotanghon” dish my husband and sons enjoy. All cooking sessions become family affairs in the kitchen and so, like always, my younger son gladly helped put together this dish.
On that note, today, allow me to wish my friend, Cheryl a ‘Happy Birthday’ with this Pancit Sotanghon noodle dish. Cheryl, I bring you cheer and comfort in this bowl of savory cellophane noodles, flavored with a nutty achuete broth and fish sauce, combined with silky tofu cubes, tender chicken slivers, garnished with crisp, green scallions.
Grab your chopsticks now, dig in and twirl those soft, silky noodles, my friend!
Pancit Sotanghon Noodles with Chicken and Tofu
- 1 Tablespoon soaked in a cup of hot water annatto seeds (achuete)
- 16 ounces about 2 cups uncooked (from Asian markets) Sotanghon (cellophane) noodles
- 2 Tablespoons corn or vegetable oil
- 2 cloves peeled, chopped garlic
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 2 stalks sliced thin celery
- 1 large piece sliced, peeled, sliced carrot
- 1 pound deboned, sliced in strips, about 1 1/2 cups chicken breast
- 1 large piece 14 ounces extra firm tofu
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce or
- 1 cup soup stock or chicken broth
- 2 cups shredded in thin strips cabbage
- 1 cup sliced in 1-inch pieces green beans
- 1/2 cup sliced in 1/2 inch pieces green onions or scallions
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
- Soak the annatto seeds in a cup of hot water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The water should look orange-colored. Set aside. Pre-soak "sotanghon" (cellophane noodles) in water for about 20 minutes, till soft. Then drain the sotanghon. Set aside.
- Over medium high heat, in a large skillet, add the cooking oil. Once it is hot enough, pan fry the large piece of firm tofu. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes till the tofu browns on all sides. Remove tofu from skillet and drain on parchment paper to remove excess oil. Cut into ½ inch-sized cubes. Set aside.
- Using the same skillet, over medium high heat, saute garlic and onions in hot oil. Add the celery and carrots and cook till softened.
- Add the chicken breast strips and fish sauce.
- Place the pre-soaked annatto seeds (achuete) in a sieve or colander. Using a fork, press down on the seeds while pouring hot water over it. The water will turn to orange. Use a cup of this annatto/achuete water and add to the skillet with the sautéed vegetables and chicken. Add chicken broth. Simmer till meat is tender.
- Then add the cabbage, green beans and mix well, let the vegetables cook for about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the sotanghon noodles to the pan with the rest of the ingredients. Mix all the ingredients together over low heat, making sure the orange broth coats the noodles. The noodles are quick to absorb liquid, so if after a while the dish looks dry, add a little more chicken broth or soup stock to moisten. Add the tofu cubes on top. Season with salt and black pepper. Garnish with scallions or green onions.
- Cook's comments: here's a tip just in time for Thanksgiving day. If you have leftover roast turkey, slice some strips and add them to this sauteed Pancit Sotanghon.
- Thanks for reading my entry to this month's "Let's Lunch" a virtual potluck event of food writers and bloggers from around the world. This November's theme is 'birthday foods .' For more recipes check out Twitter using the hashtag #LetsLunch or pin with us on our Pinterest boards. Watch for a round up of the other "Let's Lunch" food writers with links on this blog soon.
- Anne Marie‘s Sans Rival Sandwich Bites at Sandwich Surprise
- Betty Ann’s Pancit Sotanghon (Filipino Noodles) at Asian In America
- Cheryl’s Chinese Tea Eggs at Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
- Karen’s Mini Cheesecakes at GeoFooding
- Linda S.’s Mama’s Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup at Spice Box Travels
- Please check here throughout the day for more birthday-themed links to Let’s Lunch’s bloggers!
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