“There is nothing authentically Chinese about this recipe,” admits Melissa Joulwan, author of the best-selling Well Fed cookbook series, in her description of this savory, paleo pancake from her most recent cookbook, Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less. “In fact, I’m not even sure why I decided to call it a Chinese pancake, except that it just felt right.” According to Joulwan, this paleo Chinese pancake recipe is a mashup of an omelet and a pancake. “It’s sort of like egg foo young, but with the zucchini noodles as a key ingredient, it becomes its own kind of thing. Loaded with umami, this sorta-pancake is simultaneously supple and solid.”
What’s nice about this recipe is that there is some room for improvisation. If you don’t like shrimp, for example, Joulwan recommends swapping in cooked ground pork or chicken. And though this paleo Chinese pancake is delicious on its own, it’s the topping that makes it special. Joulwan calls it the secret sauce, and it is not to be skipped. You can make a large batch of the spicy secret sauce in advance and store it in a Mason jar in the fridge. That way, when it’s time to make your paleo pancake for breakfast, all you have to do is finish off the zucchini noodles and make the pancake.
Oh, and did we mention that you’ll be done with everything in under 45 minutes? There’s really no reason to wait on this Chinese-inspired paleo breakfast pancake with zucchini noodles and that spicy, secret sauce.
Green scallion tops and cilantro leaves, for garnish
For the spicy secret sauce
1 clove garlic
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons plus 1⁄2 cup light-tasting olive or avocado oil
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons coconut aminos
1⁄2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
How to Make It
Prep the noodles. Julienne the zucchini with a spiralizer. Place the noodles in a colander and toss generously with salt until the strands are lightly coated. Set in the sink to drain while you prep the other ingredients.
Make the pancake batter. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl, and add the coconut aminos, Chinese five-spice powder, sesame oil, salt, and cayenne pepper; whisk until combined and set aside. Thinly slice the scallions, and set them aside.
Make the sauce. Smash and peel the garlic clove and place it in a pint-size Mason jar. Add the egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the rice vinegar, lemon juice, coconut aminos, salt, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes to the jar and whirl with a stick blender until smooth. With the blender running inside the jar, add the remaining 1⁄2 cup oil, and purée until thickened.
Finish the noodles. Rinse the zucchini noodles under running water, drain well, and squeeze them dry in a clean dish towel. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. Add the zucchini noodles and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes until wilted and dry. Add the shrimp and sliced scallions; toss to combine.
Cook the pancake. Pour 2 teaspoons oil into the edge of the pan so it runs under the zucchini. Then pour the egg batter into the pan and swirl the skillet so the eggs run into and under the zucchini. Pat it smooth, cover the pan with a lid, and cook, undisturbed, for 6 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the eggs are set, about 5 minutes more. Flip the pancake out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Let it cool for a minute or two before cutting.
To serve, cut the pancake into wedges, drizzle it with sauce, and sprinkle with scallions and cilantro.
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