Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pancit Bato

Exploring other food blogs is always a source of inspiration for me. I love tap-tapping on my laptop late into the night, or early in the morning when I have my coffee and all is still, surfing the ever-changing WWW-landscape, uncovering treasures at ever turn. The recipes file on my hard drive is bursting with deliciousness (and a tremendous back-log!) from all the picture perfect dishes I have picked up here and there.

But I wonder how many of the not-so-perfect ones make it out here? Should we even bother putting out our less-than-stellar attempts? I think so. Once in a while I don’t mind reading about how this didn’t turn out quite the way it was expected to; or how that just seemed to go wrong at every turn. Why? Because the thing I like best about blog dishes is human on the other end – yup, that’s you! Yes, you without the test kitchen nor legions of assistants. You that sometimes produces moments of culinary brilliance, and sometimes just needs to get dinner on the table in 20 minutes after a stressful day at work. You who would love to buy organic and free-range everything, but sometimes has to make do with pre-packed flim-flam and parmesan cheese in that bright green container.

Here's a less-than-stellar moment (one of many I tell you!), from my kitchen to yours...

My best friend K brought me back a hefty bag of Pancit Bato from her trip to Camarines Sur. After our first trip to Bicol, the magazine sent her back to do a more in-depth feature on the water sports complex at Camarines Sur. In between whipping around the cable park attached to a board, and exploring the gorgeous islands of Caramoan, she managed to get me some fresh Pancit Bato noodles. Bato in Tagalog (the Filipino dialect where I live) means stone (or rock). These aren’t noodles of stone tough…they are named after the town of Bato in Bicol, where they are made. After the noodles are prepared, they are baked for a bit in a pugon (wood-burning oven) giving it its special toasty flavor. The fresh noodles will only last 7 days at room temp – as K was advised not to place them in the fridge. So after their journey back with K, I was all excited to use them!

K dropped them off at my place with instructions and tips, and I got to them right away. The instructions called for cooking them in water and Knorr Meaty Seasoning, then adding veggies and maybe some kind of meat or seafood. K said the one she ate had bits of pork and kikiam (the Chinese que-kiam – made of ground meat and vegetables and wrapped in thin bean curd sheets). C wanted chicken and shrimp. So I just tossed everything in – bits of pork belly, slices of chicken fillet, shrimp, and kikiam – along with some garlic and onion, and thinly sliced carrots and cabbage.

Perhaps the amount of my improvisation confused my poor noggin into forgetting some basic rules: Do not over-cook noodles. Do not over-cook shrimp. Do not over-cook veggies.

Sometimes we have to learn the hard way!

The dish as a whole was tasty…definitely not inedible (thank goodness!). I had it for lunch and dinner. C had it for dinner. Our building’s whole staff had it for lunch and dinner too – it was a big batch! I could taste the slightly smoky flavor from toasted noodles, I really liked that it had a lot of sahog (that means the meat and veggies that you add in), and I rediscovered my love for kikiam. The noodles were too soft though and the shrimp too hard…ack! Had I failed K's noodles? Oh dear. I am definitely doing a number of things differently if I come by these special noodles again:

  • I will use the specified amount of liquid.
  • I will cook it al dente and not turn part of it into noodle-mush.
  • I will add the veggies later rather than sooner.
  • I will add the shrimp last.

Anyhoo, let’s not sweat the small things. Things may not always go smoothly in our collective human kitchen but that’s no reason to fret. After all:

  • I have a best friend who would drag a bag full of fresh noodles around for me :)
  • I have now been baptized in the ways of pancit bato
  • I have a building full of guards and administration staff that will not bite the hand that feeds them ;)
  • I have extra kikiam to eat!
  • Despite the over-cooking, it still made for a half-way decent photo ;)


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Joey that's wonderful! and you've certainly got the right attitude at the last part there. Heck it was still good to eat and the learning was extensive!

Dhanggit said...

I am also a cooking afficionado like you..and i agree with you that surfing on the net actually inspires me on my culinary adventures i could test in my kitchen..sometimes the result pleases my husband but sometimes it is really catastropic..he hehe

katrina said...

Well, I can't tell from the picture that it was anything but delicious! And I really like your "There's always a silver lining" outlook! :-)

How I would love to be one of your lucky ka-buildings! ;-)

Manggy said...

Hi Joey! I've been infected by American standards of food safety-- somehow I feel like if you can't put it in the fridge, cook it or throw it! Especially in our climate, makes me nervous!

(I thought your post title was asking us, "Pansit ba 'to?" Ha ha ha.)

I think overcooking vegetables is okay in pancit. Overcooking shrimp/kikiam is forgivable. But the most common crime (and the worst) is overcooking the noodles-- but you know? It still tastes very good, even if the texture is mushy. Besides, you could have claimed that the dish went perfectly, since no one can tell from the pic, heh heh :)

veron said...

Hi Joey! I'm sure you've seen some of my failed kitchen experiments like the flat-as-pancake macarons I tried at first. Anyway, the picture of the pansit certainly looks delicious. I've never heard of pansit bato. And yes, plenty of sahog is good. One way I like to eat pansit is to put it in loaf bread and make it like a sandwich- what I call double carbs!

docchef said...

i just love noodles!!!

Socky said...

Hey, you forgot the staff in the next building - Ariel and me!

Nabeela said...

I used to post my less than stellar recipes a while ago and realized how disappointed my readers would be if they made it too. So I've decided to post only the top rated recipes now...but what you're saying is true. Knowing that a person is behind a blog makes it more humand and thus we're more likely to test a recipe from there :)

Anh said...

Jo, I have tons of failed experiments with food... but hardly blogged about it. perhaps I should start now :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tanna! As long as you learn something then it's all good :)

Hi Dhanggit! Thanks for dropping by :) I know what you mean...sometimes my husband is like, "What is that?" Hahaha! :)

Hi Katrina! Well, it was tasty...just too soft with overcooked sahog...sigh! But hey, if it wasn't for sliver linings we would be in the dark every time there was a cloud overhead! ;)

Hi Manggy! "Pansit ba 'to?" Hahaha! That certainly gave me a good laugh this morning :) I know what you mean by all these safety standards...that's why I was in such a hurry to cook it all! You are right...it was still tasty despite the mushy noodles but will definitely watch out for that next time. And if you tasted the shrimp you would know that the over-cooking was indeed criminal!

Hi Veron! I love your experiments! You are truly an inspiration to take on cooking fears head on! :) Oooh! I forgot about those pancit "sandwiches"...carb-on-carb is my favorite way to go :)

Me too Docchef!

Hi Socky! Hello neighbor! Next time when I've kinda mastered them already :) I was actually thinking of you guys but didn't want to send over the too-soft noodles (with the too-hard shrimp!)!

Hi Nabeela! I think as long there is a disclaimer that it wasn't all that it was cracked up to be, plus some notes on what went wrong and what to do moving forward, I think it's ok :) After all, we learn from each other's mistakes as well as from our successes :)

Hi Anh! All your things look wonderful :) But it's always nice to get a peek into "what didn't make it" :)

mtan said...

Joey, did you see the post on MM re: sotanghon or pancit canton or something noodley that's served at Cucina de tita moning? The trick was cooking the noodles and sahog seperately, under cooking them so that when they are mixed together for the final heating, the flavors are clean and they cook together for the perfect end note. Check his archive for her recipe as it could work out for your next attempt at pancit bato (I love kikiam in any noodle dish! I added it and chinese longganisa for an over the top sotanghon recently.)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

The picture looks perfect so all credit to you for owning up to it not going as you would have liked. At least it still tasted great and you got to feed a lot of people.

Gretchen Noelle said...

I recently enjoyed pansit for the first time. Not being a pasta/noodle lover, I would appreciate your resolutions to not let it get too soggy. What a great friend you have to bring the noodles back for you!

Marvin said...

I have never heard of pancit bato either, but from the looks of your picture it looks perfect. I'm sure it wasn't as bad as you thought Joey;)

Belinda said...

Joey, from the photo it looks like it a shining example of a kitchen success, and if so many people enjoyed it, it certainly had to be a hit! I think you have a great attitude though, and I have to admit that when something doesn't turn out they way I want it to, it doesn't see the light of day on the blog. And from the pathetic number of posts from me this month, you can conclude that many things have been going wrong for me lately...both in the kitchen and in life in general. Oh...and yes, it IS great to have a friend who is willing to drag noodles all over the countryside for you. :-)

ChichaJo said...

Hi M! Thanks so much for the super tip! I will definitely be checking it out for future pancit ventures :) Kikiam rocks!!!

Hi Amanda! Thanks :) Yes, at least lots got to partake :)

Hi Gretchen! K is the best :) Yes, I promise...next time al dente! :)

Hey Marvin! Thank you! :) I'm going to be on the look out for more of these noodles...

Hi Belinda! So sorry to hear of your troubles! Hang in there girl! :) I think the photo is really a shining example of my dad's D-SLR, hehehe ;) But yes, if lots got to enjoy it then it was a success :) Take care!

Lynn said...

I'm a cook-wannabe. I'm a lurker in food blogs like your blog and they inspire me to try my hand in the kitchen. I have my share of post on pansit bato which my husband loves because as he says, there is no after taste compared with the noodles bought from supermarkets.

abby said...

my first time here, and wow! nothing short of breathtaking! :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lynn! Thanks for stopping by :) I will check out your pancit bato post!

Hi Abby! Welcome to 80 Breakfasts and thanks for leaving such a nice comment :)

Anonymous said...

Who told you that pansit bato is good only for 7 days ?? The secret is to dry it in the sun. Try it next time.