Pepper Guides: Cooking Common Local NoodlesMay 3, 2016
Rice may be the nation’s staple carb of choice, but pansit and bihon are also Filipino favorites that cover important ground in the food group: noodles. From Thai pad thai and the Italian pasta, to the Japanese udon and Vietnamese pho—different cultures have diversified the noodle and adapted it into their own national cuisines. Italy has especially done so by creating different shapes and sizes. But different shapes and sizes don’t really define the differences when it comes to the variety of strands of stretched unleavened dough found in the typical Filipino grocery store.
So, here’s a list of dry noodles you can typically find in local supermarkets that may not only help you identify what you’re slurping from that bowl of soup, or perhaps eating with a pair of chopsticks straight from the oyster pail. It also serves as a guide as to how these noodles are typically prepared, and best served in your own home. Note: This is for dry noodles found in typical Filipino supermarkets. We did not cover fresh and other asian noodles.
Egg noodles are what we usually get when we order food from Chinese takeout. It is, as its name also gives away, noodles made with egg. It is also made with wheat flour, and is usually used for noodle soups. It is added directly to the broth for a 3-4 minute boiling.
Texture: Springy, firm
Vermicelli is what one might refer to as the rice noodle as it is just that—noodles made from rice. It may be served hot in soups, and cold when in salads and rolls. It is best rehydrated for 10 minutes in hot water, then drained and used as desired.
Texture: Soft, slippery, slightly chewy
Flat rice noodle
The flat rice noodle is typically used in stir-fry dishes—whether Thai, Vietnames or Chinese. It is also used in soups. Like bihon, it is best cooked by prior boiling or steeping in hot water before stir-frying, or boiled directly in the broth to be used for soup.
Texture: Slightly slippery, chewy when al dente, soft when fully cooked
Misua is basically egg misua, without the egg. It is also made from wheat flour, and used in stir-fry. But unlike the egg misua, it is also used in soups. For stir-fry, it follows the same two-minute boil and drain before frying. For soups, direct boiling in the broth is advised.
Texture: Fine, soft, delicate
Bihon, as Filipinos typically refer to it, is also called “cellophane noodles” or “glass noodles.” The name comes from the fact that the noodles turn translucent once cooked. Made from corn starch and rice, Filipinos are most familiar with it as it is used in palabok. It is usually stir-fried, and best cooked by boiling it quickly or steeping it in hot water before stir-frying.
Texture: Fine, silky, but firm
Canton is a type of noodle made from wheat flour and egg, also typical in stir-fry, but may also be served fried as crispy noodles flavored and rehydrated by sauce. To cook, it is simply added directly to the cooking liquid and tossed over heat.
Texture: Soft, doughy