Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki Noodles
Originally uploaded by Marni Molina
Until recently, I had never even heard of shirataki noodles. I had blissfully passed right by them hundreds of times at my local market, which I found amusing when I realized they live on the shelf between the tofu and the vegan cream cheese.

So what are they? Well, they are noodles with very little calories, fat, or carbs. They have a different texture than traditional noodles, offering a chewier, more toothsome bite. They are made from a potato-like root plant grown in Asia. The root itself has many names but the fiber used to make the noodles is called glucomannan, and is thought to help control blood sugar, help improve cholesterol, and even contribute to weight loss.

Noodles made from glucomannan can be a little rubbery. This is somewhat counteracted by the addition of tofu, which is what the manufacturers of the shirataki noodles available at my local market have added. Also, a reduced boiling time can help prevent the rubberfication. (Add 'em last and cook 'em short!) The longer you cook them, the more rubbery they seam to get.

As I said before, you'll find them in the refrigerated section of your market. They are packed in liquid and are ready to eat from the package. One thing I really like about how they are packaged is that they come in servings of two. It's pretty difficult to overindulge on something when there's only two servings per package.

And what, exactly, will one serving of these babies offer you? How 'bout 20 calories, 0.5g fat, and 3g of carbs. That's it! So .... go for broke and eat a whole package if you like! You'll practically burn off the calories washing your dish when you're done.

The Vegetarian Times website has a lovely recipe for Broccoli-Shirataki Noodle Soup available. This would be a great way to try them and see if you like them. If you do, there's no telling what creative things you could think to do with them. They come in several different traditional pasta cuts (fettuccine, spaghetti, angel hair, etc.) so they lend themselves to all sorts of dishes. My vegan guides just won't shut up about the possibilities. (Translation: I've got all kinds of ideas.)


jessy said...

i had no idea on the shirataki noodles! i've seen them, too - but never really gave them much thought. sounds like i may have to experiment and pick up a package or two. gotta love a nice serving size! hoooooooooray!

SSondra said...

I can't wait to try these. I'm heading to Sprouts sometime this weekend. I'll let you know what I do wtih them and how it turns out... I'm thinking basil, roma tomato, garlic....