Whatever you do, don’t break or cut the rice noodles when preparing pancit, a traditional Filipino dish. Noodles brought by Chinese settlers to the island chain symbolize long life and good health. Breaking the noodles is bad juju. It is this belief that makes the savory noodle dish a favorite for birthday celebrations and other momentous occasions. That said, pancit is also considered convenience food and even at one time a peasant food–a recipe heavy on cheaper, more available ingredients like noodles and vegetables. The dish is also ideal for serving to a crowd, which makes sense for a culture that prizes big, joyous gatherings with endless platters of food at their center.
Filipino cuisine is an interesting, delicious blend of European and Asian influences, the biggest players being Spain and China. On a Filipino restaurant menu, one might find everything from a tomato based menudo or a paella to Chinese pork buns or a weekend dim sum. And for almost as many provinces and towns as there are across the 7,000-plus islands, there are different styles of pancit–some more brothy like Pancit Batchoy, some include mung bean sprouts as the main ingredient, like Pancit Estacion, and some are garnished with hard boiled eggs or chicharrones (fried pork skins), like Pancit Malagon. While pancit can be vegetarian, most typically feature pork, chicken, shrimp, or a combination of meats and seafood.
Taking cues from the melting pot that is Filipino cuisine, the Lettuce version of pancit includes some locally grown winter greens–bok choy from Gundermann Acres in Wharton, TX and tatsoi and joi choi, Asian greens grown exclusively in Lettuce farms and dino kale because you know, it’s winter, and it isn’t a winter recipe without kale. While it might not be a traditional pancit, it is in keeping with the Filipino approach that ingredients most readily available in the region should be included. Perhaps we could call ours Pancit Tejas?