In Praise of Shirataki Noodles
A lot of foods claim to be miracles. This one actually is.
- •Shirataki noodles, also known as ito konnayaku, are a traditional Japanese noodle. You can usually find them in plastic, liquid-packed bags near the tofu.Asian grocery stores often have several varieties.
- •They contain no calories, carbs, fat, sodium, or gluten.They are made from an indigestible starch that comes from yams, and therefore have zero impact on your waistline or blood sugar. I know. It's insane.
- •The traditional variety doesn't taste much like wheat pasta, but it's damn similar to rice noodles, making it a great noodle for many Asian applications.
- •The House brand makes a shiraraki noodle that contains tofu. They are great for anywhere you would want a chewy wheat noodle, like in ramen.They're not quite sturdy enough to serve like traditional pasta with a heavy sauce, but I have enjoyed them with a light pesto or a mixture of olive oil, lemon, and Parmesan.
- •They come in these handy bags which contain enough for one serving.This is less about portion control, and more about convenience.
- •When you open them up, they will smell very fishy.The liquid they come packed in smells weird. Don't worry about it, just rinse them under cold running water in a strainer for about 30 seconds.
- •The instructions on the package will tell you they are ready to eat once you rinse them but I disagree.Boil them in salted water for about five minutes. This makes them chewier and more rice noodle–like. It also does away with any remaining fishy smell.
- •After cooking, strain them and rinse under cold running water.Unless you want them to be hot, in which case, no need to rinse.
- •Now they're ready!I put them in soups, salads, and anywhere else I would use noodles. I especially love to use them in place of Asian rice or wheat noodles in dishes I love but usually stay away from because of their high carb content. Pad Thai, Vietnamese rice noodle salad (bun), and sesame noodles are all wonderful with shiraraki noodles.
- •For a quick lunch or dinner, chop up a bunch of vegetables and maybe some nuts, and make or buy some peanut sauce.
- •Toss with the cooked, cooled noodles, top with chicken or tofu, and dig in. Super quick low-carbohydrate NOODLE dish!I'm telling you--these noodles are a complete miracle.
- •Further reading: this comprehensive piece about shirataki noodles by @thefoodlab is great: http://bit.ly/1NZIypN