Our Taste of Home: Pancit — Food Roots (2024)

By Bryce Tan

My dad’s the chef of the household: he can make any Filipino dish you can think of, and it’ll taste amazing. Dishes such as dinuguan, tinola, beef giniling, kinilaw, and kalderata are just a few popular Filipino foods my dad can make exceptionally well. However, he is known among friends and family for his pancit recipe. Pancit is a stir-fried noodle dish that consists of meat and vegetables. For Filipinos, pancit is a simple dish that symbolizes a long and happy life because it is usually served on birthdays or special occasions.

Our Taste of Home: Pancit — Food Roots (3)

As a child, I was somewhat of a picky eater. I didn’t really eat anything that seemed too exotic, had too many veggies, or smelled too strongly. For example, when I first encountered kinilaw—a Filipino dish comprised of raw fish doused in vinegar and other spices—I thought it was disgusting because of its appearance and strong, tart scent. I eventually grew out of that phase, and I now absolutely love the dish! Despite my picky eating tendencies, the dish I always looked forward to as a kid was my dad’s home-cooked pancit. I was always excited when my mom announced to me and my brother that my dad was making pancit for dinner.

I would observe my dad’s cooking process because I was fascinated with how he learned how to cook so well. My dad learned most of dishes back in the Philippines, where he learned how to cook from his mom. My dad didn’t exactly live poverty nor wealth in the Cebu province of the Philippines, but he told me that he at least never went hungry because of the importance his family placed on having food on the table every single day. He learned this lesson from his parents, and it translated when he and my mom raised me and my older brother. Even when my dad comes home late from work, he always has time to make food for the family.

Our Taste of Home: Pancit — Food Roots (4)

The best part of pancit is how convenient and easy it is to make, and it can fill up everyone with leftovers to spare. My dad usually makes pancit with carrots, cabbage, pancit canton noodles, chicken, pork sausage, and shrimp. Occasionally, he likes to change up the recipe with different noodles or vegetables added in. When we attend family gatherings at other houses, the most requested dish is usually my dad’s pancit. It’s always gone by the end of the night, and some family members even get upset that they can’t bring some home. My mom likes to brag about how great my dad’s pancit is, and I can’t blame her—my dad makes it so well.

I hope to one day master my dad’s pancit recipe so I too can pass it on when I have kids of my own and let them have a taste of my dad’s cooking. But as of now, I’ll just enjoy my dad’s version of it.

Food Roots

Our Taste of Home: Pancit — Food Roots (2024)


What does the pancit symbolize? ›

For Filipinos, pancit is a simple dish that symbolizes a long and happy life because it is usually served on birthdays or special occasions.

What is the backstory of pancit? ›

Truly, pancit is a storied dish most likely brought to the shores by Chinese merchants. Pancit is actually a poor man's dish. “Pancit comes from the [Hokkien] word pian-e-sit, which literally means food that is convenient to cook,” shares Carmelea Ang See, Director of Bahay Tsinoy Museum in Intramuros, Manila.

What is the plot of pancit? ›

A pancit plot is a graph of partitioned time series segments that correspond to distinct treatment periods, and that are plotted together over the length of one period [3].

What does a pancit taste like? ›

Pancit has a very straight forward flavor profile so there isn't anything too exotic included. It's tangy and savory from the soy sauce and oyster sauce. White and black pepper add both fruity and earthy flavors that I love.

What does pancit mean in Filipino? ›

In the Filipino language, pansít is the generic word for noodles. Different kinds of noodles can be found in Filipino supermarkets which can then be cooked at home.

Is pancit Filipino or Chinese? ›

Pancit: influence of the Chinese in Philippine noodles. Pancit (or spelled as pansit) is a Filipino version of a noodle dish that was contributed by the Chinese traders during the pre-Hispanic times of the Philippines. Every part of the Philippine archipelago has its own version of pancit.

What is a fun fact about pancit? ›

Nowadays, pancit is a fixture at many significant milestones such as weddings, baptisms, graduations, and most especially during birthdays, where their inherently Chinese symbolism as edible harbingers of a long life (provided you don't cut the noodles before you eat them) are frequently invoked.

What does the slang word pancit mean? ›

On that note, it is a legitimate word that is found in the Malay dictionary. However just like many English words adapted to form Singlish, Pancit carries a local street meaning too. It means tired.

What region is pancit from? ›

Why do we eat pancit on birthday? ›

The Filipino tradition of eating noodles, or pancit, to celebrate a birthday is one that was adopted when noodles were introduced to the Philippines by the Chinese, and is meant to symbolize long life and good health.

What does bihon mean in English? ›

Noun. bihon (Baybayin spelling ᜊᜒᜑᜓᜈ᜔) rice vermicelli; bihon (thin, white rice noodles)

Where did Bihon originate? ›

What does pancit symbolize? ›

In Filipino culture, eating noodles during one's birthday symbolizes long life.

Is chow mein and pancit the same? ›

What sets Chinese chow mein and Filipino pancit apart? Besides the flavor profile, another major difference lies in the noodles. While pancit typically uses wheat flour noodles (canton) or rice vermicelli (bihon), you'll often see chow mein make use of yellow egg noodles.

Can you freeze pancit? ›

Store any leftover Pancit in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Freeze: Once your Pancit is cooked, store any leftovers in an airtight freezer bag for up to 30 days. To thaw, just place in your fridge for 12 hours. To reheat, just microwave or heat in a skillet until warmed through.

What is the cultural function of pancit? ›

Notable Traditions. Many Filipino foods have rich traditions surrounding them, and pancit is no exception. Among the biggest tradition is that partygoers should eat the dish when celebrating a loved one's birthday. This tradition that has its origins in Chinese culture.

What are noodles a symbol of? ›

Longevity Noodles are eaten on one's birthday, and express, as the name suggests, a wish for longevity. The noodles are usually thin and long.

What is the significance of noodles in Chinese culture? ›

Though noodles are part of everyday life in Chinese culture, they also hold a lot of symbolism when eaten during significant events. In China, noodles are frequently eaten during the start of the Lunar New Year and on birthdays. In fact, they symbolize longevity and good health for the year ahead.

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