Growing up Filipino, it never once crossed my mind that I would one day be a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. I mean, that was preposterous in my family, and in my entire country, really. When I first went veg in college, I did not stand a chance at family parties. Not only did uncles and aunties have jokes, but I would also have to smugly act satisfied with plain white rice, which was the only thing I could eat at the table. I couldn’t even eat the pancit. Why wouldn’t pancit be vegan, anyway? When I was little I used to pick out the pieces of chicken because I felt like they didn’t taste right in this traditional Filipino noodle dish. And I was a kid who loved all the meat.
Anyway, flash forward many years, and veganism is legit. I’m surprised and delighted that more and more Filipinos are getting onboard because it’s super healthy. This is unbelievable because our cuisine is almost entirely meat-based. Actually, both of my sisters got on a plant-based diet a couple of years ago and they love it. We are three vegan witches laughing and geeking out over coconut cream ice cream, fried orange cauliflower and Impossible Burgers. It’s great being vegan in 2019.
Back to pancit – it’s so quick and easy to make it vegan! Chicken broth is not necessary, and neither is vegetable broth, which is called for in a lot of vegetarian pancit recipes. Water works perfectly, and I promise it will still be flavorful. (I find that the need for broth or stock in most recipes is debatable.) My recipe is simple and loaded with vegetables so it is super nutritious – but it tastes GOOD and authentic. You can really add any of your fave veggies. Chinese eggplant, zucchini, spinach, broccoli. Don’t let auntie get you shook when she looks over your shoulder judging. Make it yours 🙂
Notes: You can find pancit bihon rice noodles at the Asian market. They vary a bit in taste and texture so you just have to find your favorite. I don’t know if I have a fave yet. Coconut aminos adds a little sweetness. If you don’t have it, add 1 extra tablespoon of soy sauce, plus about 1 teaspoon sugar (optional). If your fam eats a lot you might want to double this recipe!
Vegan Filipino Pancit Bihon recipe
Cook time: approx. 30 minutes
1 8-oz. package dried pancit bihon rice noodles
2 to 3 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, halved and sliced
3 heads bok choy, stalks separated
2 to 3 cups water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons coconut aminos
In a colander, rinse (do not soak) the dried rice noodles in cold water. Drain and let sit.
In a large wok, heat oil over high heat. Once it starts to smoke, cook onion until golden, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add carrot and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add separated bok choy stalks and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 2 cups water, plus the soy sauce and coconut aminos, and let boil.
Once boiling, lower heat to medium high, and add rice noodles. Stir continuously until noodles absorb all the liquid. Add up to 1 extra cup water if softer noodles are desired.
Kainan na! (Let’s eat!)