We always celebrate birthdays in our family and so I cooked Pancit Canton- Chinese Noodles Stir-fried with Shrimps and Vegetables for my son’s birthday last month. I made sure we had a noodle dish for long life and prosperity. Every Filipino birthday celebration has pancit (say “pahn-seet”). We also needed a meatless meal, so I cooked this pancit with only shrimps and veggies. It was superb.
When our adult sons come home to visit, I make an effort to make the meal healthy. The tables have turned. My sons, all grown up with their own lives and careers, are now mindful of nutrition and good health. They look for it in the dishes I cook when they’re home. I relish their recipes and photos of food they cook which they share with me. The thought that good health and regular exercise are priorities in my sons’ lives leave me reassured they’ll be fine.
If you’ve never cooked this Filipino dish yet, you should give it a quick whirl in the kitchen. Pancit Canton noodles are available in Asian markets here in the USA. Look for it in the Philippine aisle or where all the noodles are found. Since these are classified as dry noodles, you can also find Pancit Canton noodles online like Amazon or Asian supermarket websites.
“The word ‘pancit’ (or ‘pansit’ in some cookbooks) comes from the Hokkien words ‘pian-e-sit’, which means something that is conveniently cooked, and originally did not mean noodles. The noodle dish eventually was adapted to local ingredients, tastes and occasions.” [Doreen G. Fernandez, “The Noodles of Our Lives” from the book ‘Tikim’]
Pancit Canton are dry Chinese wheat noodles. They are the Philippine adaptation of Chinese noodles. They are dried, yellow strands and are packaged in rectangular blocks. These noodles are made with wheat flour, coconut oil and yellow food color.” (From ‘The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook by Patricia Tanumihardja)
This Pancit Canton dish fit all the requirements my boys wanted. It is one of my favorite noodle dishes to cook because it is simple, yet offers an array of flavors we all enjoy. The thick, hefty, wheat Chinese noodles expand and look like lo Mein when cooked. The wholesome yellow noodles are a good backdrop to the savory shrimps, crisp vegetables swirling in a silky slurry of Asian sauces and seasonings . This stir fried noodle dish came together in minutes and it was a festive concoction to behold on the large oval bandejado.
Like all happy events, a Filipino pancit dish is the centerpiece of birthday dinners for us. Whether we spend the day in a big or small way, birthdays are blessings. And each one is meant to be celebrated with an abundance of good food, family, friends and love.
*Nearly every recipe you’ve seen on this blog was taught to me or influenced by my late mother Lulu Reyes Besa. As we celebrate International Women’s Day today and Women’s History Month, join me in celebrating all the women in our lives who have inspired us to be better. Read my essay I Will Never Be As Brave As My Mother, which I dedicate to my mom.
Pancit Canton with Shrimps and Vegetables
- Large skillet or wok : 12 to 14 inches in diameter
- 1/2 pound medium-sized fresh shrimps washed, peeled, heads and tails removed
- 2 Tablespoons calamansi juice (or use lemon juice)
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic peeled, minced
- 1 whole large white or yellow onion chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tablespoons toyo (soy sauce) use Philippine brands if possible; from Asian markets
- 1 whole carrot peeled, sliced, about 1 cup
- 250 grams green beans washed, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 2 whole sayote (chayote) peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 12 ounces dried Pancit Canton noodles about 3 cups when cooked and expands; from Asian markets or online sources
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 cup water (room temperature)
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon toyo (soy sauce)
- 2 stalks scallion greens chopped; for garnish
- slices of fresh calamansi or fresh lemon
- 1/4 cup toyo (soy sauce); for side dipping sauce
To prepare shrimps:
- Wash the shrimps. Peel off the skin, heads and tails. Marinate the shrimps in the calamansi or lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.*Do not marinate longer than 15 minutes or the shrimps will cook in the citrus liquid.
To cook the Pancit Canton:
- In a large skillet or wok, over medium-high heat, add the oil. When oil is hot enough in 1 to 2 minutes, saute the garlic, onions and celery.Add the fresh shrimps to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes.Pour the toyo and broth. Continue cooking for 3 minutes more. When the liquid boils, lower heat and keep cooking to a slow simmer.
- Add the sliced carrots, sayote and green beans. Mix and stir fry with the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 6 minutes more till vegetables are soft.
- To the stir-fried vegetables in the skillet, add the dried pancit canton noodles. As the noodles soften into the liquid, keep mixing for all ingredients to incorporate.The broth will soften the noodles. As the cooking continues, the noodles will expand and absorb the liquid.Season with salt, pepper and sesame oil. Cover and allow noodles to cook for about 6 minutes.
- In a separate small bowl, make the slurry: Mix the 1/4 cup water with the cornstarch and soy sauce. Blend well till there are no more lumps.Pour this mixture to the broth of the pancit canton. After adding the cornstarch mixture, and the broth boils in about 2 minutes, the liquid will get thick. Mix the noodles and rest of the ingredients well.Garnish with scallions. Serve warm with a side dipping sauce of toyo and slices of fresh calamansi or lemons.
Instant Pot Pancit Canton
- For a quick Instant Pot Pancit Canton recipe, check out my newest cookbook "Instant Filipino Recipes" by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino sold worldwide on Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle format. In my cookbook, I share timeless Filipino recipes from my mother which I've transformed to Instant Pot recipes for everyday home cooking.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. Buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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Disclosure: Instant Pot is the brand name of a multi-cooker that cooks in high and low pressure. I was not paid by the Instant Pot company to mention the product or brand nor endorse it. This is not an ad. My views and opinions are my own.