Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, November 7, 2001

A traditional pancit dish, top, is made with shrimp, shiitake
mushrooms and two kinds of noodles. Below, pancit is
turned into a salad, made with rice noodles and packed
with fruit. Recipes.

Noodlin’ around

Cooking contestants will offer
contemporary versions of the
traditional Filipino specialties,
pancit and lumpia

By Betty Shimabukuro

Into the wok go noodles, bean sprouts, green beans, sliced cabbage and carrots. Then come the oyster and fish sauces. Toss.

And then you vamp.

Pancit lends itself to improvisation, to a jam session at the stovetop where the individual cook can make a mark on the main dish. Like fried rice, this Filipino staple can be simple or complex, full of meat or meatless, the way Mom made it or something very, very different.

In truth, it's even more flexible than that. Pancit simply means noodles, so taken literally it's any dish made with any type of noodle, although a few rules are generally accepted (see first paragraph).

Sunday, professional chefs and amateur cooks will see how far they can go with both pancit and another Filipino specialty, lumpia, in cook-offs highlighting "Taste of Waipahu: Plantation Culture Lives," a day of cultural activities and eating opportunities throughout this town.

Traditional versions will be cooked alongside contemporary creations that play on the Hawaii Regional Cuisine concept.


Renato Sabalburo, executive chef for the Marine Corps
food service division, garnishes a pancit salad made with
vegetables and fruit. When he makes more traditional
pancit, the chef packs it with meat -- pork loin, Chinese
sausage, chicken, shrimp, even pork rinds.

"Basically, we got the idea from the Chinese," says chef Almar Arcano of Hy's Steakhouse, talking about the roots of pancit. "They taught us to use oyster sauce. You have to have oyster sauce."

Arcano is a featured player in the Iron Chef Cooking Challenge, sponsored by Cocina Filipina Restaurant and Bakeshop. He'll be joined by Alfred Cabacungan of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Renato Sabalburo of the Marine Corps Community Services Food and Hospitality Division. All three will present versions of pancit drawn from both their Filipino heritage and their contemporary experience as executive chefs with their respective organizations.

The possibilities are extensive. Chona Montesines-Sonido says her Cocina Filipina restaurant offers pancit with a choice of six noodles, from pancit bihon (thin, dried rice noodles) to pancit Canton (thick Chinese-style egg noodles).

The lumpia competition is sponsored by television personality Emme Tomimbang and chef Alan Wong. Contemporary versions of this fried finger food are listed on the menus of many white-tablecloth restaurants these days, and that inspired this exploration of lumpia's possibilities, Tomimbang says.

Wong will be joined by chefs Chai Chaowasaree, D.K. Kodama and Hiroshi Fukui in demonstrating their lumpia ideas, which will then be judged against each other. Filipino restaurants will compete separately, as will other local restaurants and home cooks.

Inspired? Try these recipes, for traditional and contemporary pancit dishes, from chefs Arcano and Sabalburo:

Pancit Bihon

Almar Arcano

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup EACH thinly sliced onion, red and green bell pepper, and carrots
3/4 cup EACH thinly sliced celery and fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 pound cabbage, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
8 ounces cooked bay shrimps
4 ounces dry squid, cooked and thinly sliced
2 pounds pancit miki (fresh egg noodles)
4 ounces pancit bihon (dry rice noodles), soaked in water to soften
Achiote powder, soaked in water, as needed
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)
1 tablespoon instant soup base
Ground white pepper, to taste
Cilantro, green onion slices and hard-boiled egg slices, for garnish

Heat oil in a wok. Add chicken, stirring constantly, then the garlic and onion, followed by all the vegetables. Toss to mix and sauté. Pour in broth, then shrimps and squid. Add noodles. Keep tossing mixture. Stir in achiote, oyster sauce, patis and soup base. If mixture is too dry, add more broth. Season with pepper and garnish. Serves 6 as an entrée.

Fruited Pancit Bihon Salad

Renato Sabalburo

12 ounces pancit bihon (dry rice noodles), pre-soaked
1/2 cup EACH zucchini and yellow squash, cut in thin strips like spaghetti
1/4 cup EACH julienned red bell pepper, Chinese peas, carrots and jicama (Chinese yam)
1/4 cup EACH pineapple and honeydew melon cubes
1/4 cup black olives
6 fresh strawberries
2 cups broccoli florets
3 ripe tomatoes, in wedges
3 ripe papayas, peeled, seeded and cut in chunks
3/4 cup thinly julienned radicchio
2-3/4 cups Mango Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Combine all ingredients; toss with vinaigrette.

Mango Vinaigrette

3 pints oil (vegetable, peanut, olive or safflower)
1 cup vinegar
1 cup pureed fresh mango
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender. Blend until smooth, then add oil slowly, continuing to blend until well-incorporated. Refrigerate until needed. Makes 2 quarts.

Nutritional information unavailable.


Events begin Sunday with a 9 a.m. parade on Waipahu Road. A shuttle will connect these locations:

Hawaii's Plantation Village: Entertainment and tours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with parol-making workshop at 10 a.m.; Lumpia Challenge at noon.

Depot Road: Food, craft and community booths, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Several area restaurants are participating.

Filipino Community Center: Entertainment and craft booths, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Pancit Challenge at 2 p.m.

Hans L'Orange Baseball Park: Sports activities and kids' games, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with high school cooking competition at 10:30 a.m.


Home cooks are invited to enter both cook-offs:

Pancit Challenge: Bring prepared pancit to serve 100 to Cocina Filipina Too in Waipahu by noon Sunday. Call 841-5200.

Lumpia Challenge: Bring 100 bite-sized pieces of cooked lumpia to Hawaii's Plantation Village by 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Call 847-6401.

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