I have never discussed about sotanghon and bihon here on my blog. They look similar, both are glass noodles, and uses are almost interchangeable, except that sotanghon is used for soups. But let me discuss it a little further.
Sotanghon, or vermicelli, is a glass noodle of thin long strands. It is made of mung bean starch (or at least for the authentic ones), which makes it a good protein source. It has more of a bite to it when cooked, springy too. And it is used for soups because it doesn’t disintegrate when cooked in lots of liquid. It actually has the tendency to absorb a lot of the soup, which can get annoying too.
Bihon, or rice noodles, is made from rice. Based on appearance, sans the packaging, looks exactly like the sotanghon. But recently, it comes in compressed packs, not the loose noodles they usually do. On a more detailed look into the noodle, the bihon looks white, while the sotanghon noodle looks clear. It is used mostly in stir fried, sauteed noodle dishes. And this cannot be used in soups since it will easily disintegrate.
So going back to my post of chicken and sotanghon. This has been an old dish in the family, but not frequently prepared. There is a specific way I like this prepared. I like it soupy, with broth, unlike when the noodles have been sitting in the broth too long and absorbed by the noodles already. I like my chicken whole pieces and not shredded. Basically, I want it like a soup, while my mom likes it like pancit. So there’s a huge difference there.
In the middle of the scathing heat of the summer. I was craving for a bowl of this steamy soup, so I decided to make it. This was so easy that it was done in 45 minutes (with the chicken frozen like a rock from the freezer). I sauteed some garlic and onion, put in the chicken, added fish sauce and chicken powder, along with about 6 cups of water. I let this boil for a good 20 minutes, skimming off the scum of the top since it looked unsightly. While this was boiling, I soaked 4 portions of noodles in cold water. After boiling for about 40 minutes, I removed the chicken from the soup. I then added the noodles, and it only needed a minute or so. I removed the noodles from the soup and served it separately too. So there in three bowls were the noodles, soup, and chicken 🙂
I was quite happy with the results. It is a clear soup with huge chicken pieces (which others preferred to eat with rice and the soup) and I happily slurped on my noodles and soup, while biting off the chicken. It feels like such a comfort food, like snuggling at home on a rainy morning at home (or on a hot summer’s day). 🙂
1 onion, sliced
1 whole head of garlic, smashed and peeled
1 chicken, cut into 8 to 12 serving pieces
6 to 8 cups of broth or water (plus bouillion)
4 to 6 servings of sotanghon, soaked in water
Saute the onion and garlic in some oil. When the aromatics are softened, add in the chicken along with some fish sauce. Pour in the broth or water and season lightly (you can always adjust after). Let the chicken finish cooking completely.After about 40 minutes, it is done. Removed the chicken pieces from the broth, and place the soaked noodles in it and let it finish cooking for a few minutes. Remove. Serve the chicken, noodles, and soup separately. 🙂