I envisioned making a Paleo Pancit for the longest time, but didn’t know what to use for grain free noodles. Then I found some dried sweet potato noodles in an Asian food store. Simple noodles made with just sweet potato starch and water. So convenient! Then somewhere along the line, I asked myself “Am I making Pancit or Japchae?” I’m using Japchae noodles, Pancit vegetables, and common seasoning. Filipino and Korean noodle bowl?
Yes, I took some key elements from both dishes added a Paleo touch (ahem replacing soy sauce with coconut aminos) and call it “Pancit Japchae.” Good for you Paleo, awesome, and delicious!
The two dishes have a lot of common ingredients and have very similar preparation methods. They both consist of stir frying noodles with meat, vegetables, and sauce. Japchae particularly uses stir fried sweet potato noodles, whereas Pancit uses wheat or rice noodles. Actually, the term “pancit” simply means noodles, so using any good noodle counts toward a Pancit dish!
But one noodle that should NEVER EVER be used in noodle stir fry is spaghetti. Have you seen this monstrosity? I’ve seen this in a few Teppenyaki places. You know where they grill the meat in front of you, make a cute onion volcano, and toss shrimp at your face? I’m actually good at catching them. The steaks and shrimp tricks are fun. But theeeen, they dump a bowl of cold cooked spaghetti on the grill and slather it with some sugary sauce. It’s horribly upsetting. Stir fried spaghetti. Absurd.
Anyway noodle choice aside (and minor vegetable choices), the biggest difference between Japchae and Pancit is sweet vs salty. Japchae has sugar added and quite a bit of sesame oil. Pancit does not add such sweetness. They sit on the salty side of the spectrum, particularly using fish sauce. For this Pancit Japchae, I left the sugar out and plucked the sesame oil and fish sauce from the two dishes. It’s a lovely combination!
The special feature shared between two? Frying the noodles! It’s an extra couple of steps, but my goodness it’s worth it!
- 1 lb of Pork Loin
- 2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon of Cracked Black Pepper
- 4 Carrots
- 1 Head of Cabbage
- 1 medium Yellow Onion, sliced
- 4 Garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup of Coconut Aminos (or soy sauce)
- 1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil
- 2-4+ Tablespoons of Cooking Fat (lard or ghee)
- 1 lb of Sweet Potato Starch Noodles
- Cut the pork loin into 1" cubes.
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the meat.
- Peel and slice the carrots to a little less than ¼" thick.
- Cut out the core stem of the cabbage and slice into ½" strips.
- Heat a wok or stir fry pan to about medium high.
- Add half of the cooking fat and stir fry the onions until slightly translucent. Add the garlic.
- Add the meat and continue cooking and stir frying uncovered until meat turns brown.
- Add the coconut aminos (or soy sauce), fish sauce, and enough water to cover the meat (about 1 cup).
- Mix in the vegetables.
- Cover and cook on medium for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are soft.
- Filter the vegetables from the sauce. Save the broth to soak the noodles.
- Boil about 4 quarts of water.
- Add the noodles and let boil for three minutes. It should still be pretty stiff .
- Drain and snip noodles in half with kitchen shears.
- Soak the noodles in the broth recovered from the meat and vegetables.
- Add a liberal amount of oil to a clean wok under medium heat.
- Transfer the noodles from the broth and stir fry them in the oil.
- Remove from heat and fold in the vegetables and sesame oil.
- Garnish with Lemon and Enjoy!