Prepare your rice sticks. I was taught to soak the rice sticks in hot water for 5 minutes because my mom and aunts didn’t like their pancit with short noodles. We don’t all have giant woks or pans at home so this method will accommodate everyone. Pancit has its origins from China, where the Chinese believe that eating noodles on special occasions meant we wished our guests a happy long life and breaking up the noodles was considered bad luck. Filipinos still carry on that tradition and prepare this dish for all those special occasions, so if you have Filipino friends, you know that I’m right. By soaking them in hot water, either in a colander (or if you’re lazy like me, then pour hot water directly into the bag) for 5 minutes, will save you the trouble of buying a giant wok and or breaking the noodles in half just to get it to fit. Drain the noodles after 5 minutes and set aside. If you soak for longer, your noodles will have soaked up too much liquid and you'll end up with a very wet dish.
Boil chicken in 4 cups of water. The chicken breast should cook in about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the water and shred the chicken meat with a fork. Save about 3 cups of the broth and set aside.
Heat a large wok or a large sauté pan to high heat. Add canola oil and wait until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the garlic and onions and stir fry until the onions turn translucent. Add the vegetables: carrots and celery and stir fry for about 1 minute, then add the cabbage and pea sprouts. Stir fry for 1 minute more then remove the vegetables to a plate. Add a little more oil and quickly sauté shrimp (if using). Cook until they form the letter “C”. Remove from the pan to a plate.
Pour 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth into the heated wok. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce and 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Add the rice sticks and boil for another 5 minutes or so until there is almost no liquid. Add the chicken and shrimp back into the wok and toss. Then add the vegetables and toss thoroughly until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Taste…add dark soy sauce for more color or fish sauce for more salt. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Plate and garnish with sliced scallions and lemon wedges. Enjoy!