Sweet Potato Vermicelli with Meat and Vegetable Sauce

This dish was a happy result of a change of mind while cooking dinner.  I’ve not had the chance to sit down and plan the week’s meals ahead of time, and this has resulted in a lot of improvisations and experimentation, some of which were good and some of which were plain odd (but edible)!  The original plan was to cook a veal and root vegetable stew, but it didn’t seem complete somehow.  It needed an accompanying side.  Rice was out as it’s a grain and hence not Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).  I didn’t feel like having plantains either.  Did a quick scan of the available ingredients in the pantry and fished out a pack of sweet potato vermicelli and got to work.

I used sweet potato vermicelli or dangmyeon which is typically used for making a Korean noodle dish called Jap Chae.  It has a texture like glass noodles and is rather chewy and springy.  If you’re looking for the al dente bite of Italian pasta, this isn’t it!  For this dish I used the flat type of vermicelli (think fettucine), rather than the round type (like spaghetti).  It was my first time trying out the flat type and I think it’s more forgiving to work with as the width of the vermicelli makes it less prone to breakage should it be overcooked.  After it has been cooked, it is important to rinse the vermicelli under cool running water to remove extra starch and prevent it from clumping together.  If you’re short on time, you can choose to omit stir-frying the sweet potato vermicelli and serve the meat and vegetable sauce over the boiled vermicelli instead.

I wasn’t even sure of how to call it, the first thing I thought of was ‘Korean-inspired pasta’ but it seemed too vague.  Finally settled on ‘sweet potato vermicelli with meat and vegetable sauce’, which is quite a mouthful but describes the dish perfectly.  Come to think of it, the dish reminds me of beef hor fun!  It’s very homey looking and comforting to eat, especially with homemade kimchi on the side.  Both my husband and elder son enjoyed it a lot, and the younger son ate the sauce on its own enthusiastically!

sweet potato vermicelli with meat and vegetable sauce

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the meat and vegetable sauce

  • 1.5 cups carrots, chopped into chunks
  • 1.5 cups Jerusalem artichokes, chopped into chunks
  • 1.5 cups daikon, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1 inch thick semi-circles
  • 1 Vidalia onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 pound/ 0.5kg veal or stewing beef, cut into 1.5 inch chunks
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos
  • Sea salt to taste

For the tapioca flour slurry

  • Approximately 1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • Enough water to mix with the tapioca flour

For the sweet potato vermicelli

  • 3/4 lbs/350 g or 1/2 packet of sweet potato vermicelli (I used the flat type but the round type would work too)
  • Water
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 5 stalks Chinese chives/ spring onions, cut into 1 inch long pieces
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Coconut aminos to taste

Method (Using Instant Pot pressure cooker)

Making the meat and vegetable sauce

  • Place all the ingredients for the meat and vegetable sauce into the Instant Pot inner stainless steel pot and secure the lid
  • Set the pressure cooker to ‘sealing’ mode and cook at ‘manual’ setting for 30 minutes
  • Once the pressure cooker beeps, press ‘Keep warm/ cancel’ and open the cooker lid using the natural pressure release method
  • Set the cooker to ‘saute’ mode and prepare the tapioca flour slurry by mixing the tapioca flour with just enough water to dissolve all the flour
  • Once the stew starts boiling, add the tapioca flour slurry in a steady stream while stirring the sauce
  • Allow it to simmer a while longer and thicken before switching off the pressure cooker

Preparing the sweet potato vermicelli

  • While the meat and vegetable sauce is cooking, prepare the sweet potato vermicelli
  • Fill a saucepan with water and bring to boil (Make sure there is enough water to cover the sweet potato vermicelli once it is put into the saucepan)
  • Add sweet potato vermicelli and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Remove from heat, strain in a colander, rinsing the sweet potato vermicelli thoroughly under cool running water until the water runs clear.  Set aside and allow to drain
  • Heat the avocado oil in a skillet over medium heat before adding Chinese chives/ spring onions
  • Add sweet potato vermicelli and garlic powder, sea salt and coconut aminos
  • Stir-fry until sweet potato vermicelli are well coated and fragrant
  • Remove from heat

Assembling the dish

  • Plate cooked sweet potato vermicelli into individual bowls/ plates
  • Ladle meat and vegetable sauce over the vermicelli and serve immediately
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