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Cooks who have recently discovered the convenience of Canton noodles are sure to turn to them again and again for dishes that range from simple noodles in sauce to complex stir-fries filled with a multitude of ingredients. Those who have been cooking with Canton noodles for years can offer tips about the best ways to serve them. Although they are, in essence, egg noodles, they have been precooked and then dried; it’s important not to overcook the dried noodles, or they will become soggy. They are nibbled in households all over Asia as pancit Canton, which requires nothing more than a sauce made of very few ingredients. Where they really shine is in stir-fry dishes because they don’t need to be boiled beforehand as long as the stir-fry contains a little liquid.
Pancit Canton noodles, while originating in the Philippines, have become ubiquitous. Most cooks would agree that pancit Canton noodle dishes are the simplest way to serve a hungry family or group of friends because all they really require is a sauce. At this point, though, opinions diverge as to what the sauce should contain. Some use little more than soy sauce, oil, and a sparkle of lemon juice. Others add protein in the form of shellfish, beef, or pork, and poultry is also common in pancit Canton.
Cabbage, snow peas, bean sprouts, and other veggies can be added as well. Some cooks bulk up the sauce not with meats and veggies but with ground peanuts as both a delicious sauce thickener and a source of protein. Vegetarians, of course, can substitute tofu, tempeh, or seitan or even chopped eggs.
As popular as pancit Canton noodles are, there are many other ways to serve this quick-cooking noodle. Many home cooks break them into smaller lengths and toss them into the soup pot. These noodles, which require nothing more than a very quick swim in hot water to become flexible enough to cook with, absorb the flavor of the liquid. Except for versions that have been created using chilies or seaweed, the noodle is bland enough to use in all manner of dishes from around the world.
Casseroles featuring Canton noodles, shellfish or chicken, and a cream sauce make an elegant meal, and because the noodles don’t require more than a minute or so in hot water, it comes together in a snap. Beef or vegetable stew served with noodles instead of rice or potatoes is another option. Stroganoff is just as delicious resting atop a nest of these quick-cooking noodles as well.
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