Finding Passion in the Kitchen

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I grew up in a household where both my parents loved cooking which meant, I never had to cook.

(Shameless Plug: they run a catering business, Engson Catering, specializing in Filipino Food. Inquire within!)

Before going Paleo, I absolutely hated cooking. I loved to bake, but I loathed cooking. I always thought it was too time consuming and tedious. I hated helping my mom or dad meal prep, but I had to do it, there was no other option — unpeeling egg roll wrappers, snapping long green beans, slicing onions whilst tearing up, chopping up veggies and the list goes on. It felt like a chore. You never love anything if it feels like a chore. 

Enter Paleo.

When I started experimenting with the Paleo diet back in 2011, I was forced to spend time in the kitchen. I was trying to look for shortcuts, but knew I would only cheat myself. There was only one solution: Learn to cook. 

I researched. I googled Paleo recipes regularly and came across a few blogs that inspired me. Sometimes I couldn’t believe some of the recipes I came across, they blew my mind!

I have developed such a passion for all things related to Paleo and cooking. I love re-inventing my mom or dad’s Filipino dishes and making them Paleo Friendly. When I’m not saving lives during a 12-hour shift, I’m at home spending time in my kitchen. It`s almost therapeutic.

A lot of people have asked me, “How do you have time?” Simple: You make time. When you’re passionate about something, it doesn’t feel like a chore. Now if I can only find passion in cleaning up the kitchen…


Here is my first recipe share. Paleo Japchae, a famous Korean Dish. This dish is made with Sweet Potato Noodles. Two ingredients: sweet potato starch and water — looks paleo friendly to me! 

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Japchae (Recipe by The Domestic Man, thedomesticman.com)

(http://thedomesticman.com/2014/02/11/japchae-%EC%9E%A1%EC%B1%84/)

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 20 mins plus 1 hr marinade
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

2 tsp wheat-free tamari (coconut aminos okay)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2″ ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 lb rib-eye or sirloin steak, sliced into strips
1 tbsp chicken broth
1 tsp honey
1/2 bunch (4oz) spinach or Chinese cabbage (kai-lan pictured above)
6oz sweet potato noodles, cut into 6″ lengths
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 carrot, julienned
3 shiitake mushrooms, fresh or reconstituted dry (soaked for 30 mins in warm water)
4 green onions, cut into 4″ pieces
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, divided

1. Mix the tamari, sesame oil, rice wine, white pepper, salt, garlic, and ginger, then combine half of the resulting sauce with the beef strips and marinate for 1 hour. Combine the other half of the sauce with the chicken broth and honey and set aside.

2. As the beef marinates, prep the other ingredients. In a stockpot, bring some water to a boil. Parboil the spinach for 30 seconds, then remove with tongs, rinse, and squeeze until mostly dry. In the same water, gently boil the sweet potato noodles for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water; they will start to harden, which is fine. Toss the noodles with a little sesame oil to prevent sticking, then set aside.

3. Warm the coconut oil in a wok on medium-high heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Add the beef and stir-fry until cooked through, about 3 minutes, then remove the beef and set aside. Add the carrot to the wok and stir-fry until slightly softened, about 1 minute, then add the noodles, spinach, mushrooms, green onions, beef, sauce, and half of the sesame seeds. Stir-fry until the sauce cooks down, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes. Season to taste, then sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds over the Japchae and serve.

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