Shirataki: The “miracle” noodles everyone is talking about

In the past two months I’ve had about 20 clients, 9 Facebook connections and 5 friends ask me the same thing about something known as miracle noodles, no carb noodles or zero noodles: “What’s with these Shirataki noodles? Do you think these are something I could eat?”

You see, I have a lot of clients who are celiac, have a gluten intolerance, or simply feel better without gluten in their systems. Most of them, however, seem to really miss pasta.

Sure, they’ve tried various gluten-free pastas based on brown rice or chickpeas or quinoa or corn or whatever. But in truth, most of them (with the exception of Tinkyada brand organic brown rice-based pasta), are pretty abysmal. (Canadian readers can find Tinkyada noodles here. Those of you in the UK, can go here.)

So these folks do what any pasta-loving person would do in the face of bad noodles: They simply stop eating pasta.

But Shirataki has given new hope to pasta lovers everywhere. And not only gluten-free noodle lovers, but those who are trying to consume fewer carbs, such as those with cardiovascular conditions, diabetics or metabolic syndrome, as well as individuals who find pasta makes them retain water or pack on fast pounds.

Shirataki noodles are a thin, translucent, gelatinous traditional Japanese noodles made from the konjac yam. Largely composed of water and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber,they average around 3 grams of carbohydrates, between 0 and 5 calories (depending upon the brand) and no fat per serving.

Note: I am referring to the traditional yam-based shirataki noodles. There are American brands that have been sneaking some soy flour, soy isolate or tofu into the traditional recipe. Avoid these! Your body does not need more soy!

But let’s back up a bit: Zero calories? Yep, you read that correctly! But they don’t have much of anything else, either, so it’s best to view shirtaki noodles as a small part of a whole food diet, not as something you’ll be eating several nights a week.)

If you’re interested in giving shirataki noodles a try, here are some tips:

—Shirataki noodles can be a bit hard to find. Head to the nearest Asian grocery or “world food” aisle of your supermarket. Or do what I do and order them online. Amazon is a great source. (If you’re in Canada, go here. If you’re in the UK, go here.)

—Don’t pig out on shirataki first time you eat them. They are made from the fiber of the konjac yam—called glucomannan—mixed with lime water and can cause bloating, cramping, gas or diarrhea in some people. Enjoy a half-serving at first and waiting an hour to see what happens. Go for a whole serving the next time you make shirataki noodles.

—The glucomannan in shirataki noodles has been found in studies to reduce the bioavailability of oral medications. If you are on some type of medication, play it save and avoid taking your medication with a meal that features shirataki noodles. The medication should be taken 1 hour before or 4 hours after a meal that contains glucomannan.

—On the flip side, glucomannan has been found to promote weight loss by preventing the absorption of dietary cholesterol, as well as creating a feeling of fullnessThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported in a 1995 study that there was a 10 percent reduction in cholesterol levels of 70 men after a four-week treatment with glucamannon fiber.

—Further, if you’re the cook, you’ll instantly be taken aback by the noodles’ foul odor. The noodles can be purchased fresh (the smelliest option) or dried (they get smelly as they cook). To get rid of the odor, as well as the noodles’ slight bitterness, boil the noodles as directed then rinse and rinse and rinse in cool water. Drain the rinsed noodles and pan-fry in a dry frying pan (no oil!) over medium heat until noodles are dry and almost water-free, about 10 minutes.

—They are then ready to cook with. Many people I know use these in traditional Italian or comfort food dishes, but I happen to think shirataki marinari or shirataki and cheese tastes weird. But the noodles are brilliant in sesame noodles, Singapore noodles, pad thai, ramen-style soups and other Asian-influenced meals.

 

Here are two easy ways to enjoy shirataki noodles:

 

Sesame Shirataki Noodles

Makes 2 servings

 

¼ cup natural wheat-free soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

two tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, or to taste

few shakes of siracha sauce

3 scallions, white and green part, sliced

1 7-ounce package of fresh or dried shirataki noodles, cooked per package instructions, rinsed and pan-toasted as described above

½ cup chopped cooked veggies (I like broccoli)

Optional: one or two tablespoons chopped cilantro

 

1. In a large bow, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, siracha sauce and scallions until combined.

2. Add cooked shirtaki noodles and vegetables and toss to coat.

3. Let sit for 30 to 45 minutes to develop flavors.

4. Toss right before serving. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

 

 

Easy Faux Ramen Soup

Makes 2 to 4 servings

 

4 cups strong vegetable or chicken broth

1 7-ounce package of fresh or dried shirataki noodles, cooked per package instructions, rinsed and pan-toasted as described above

Optional: ½ cup of chopped cooked veggies (I use last night’s leftovers)

Optional: 1/4 to ½ cup chopped chicken, pork or seafood

Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

 

1. Heat broth in a medium saucepot until just about simmering.

2. Add all remaining ingredients except the optional cilantro and heat just until warmed through.

3. Garnish, if desired, with cilantro.

One comment

  • Miracle noodles, which are gelatinous Japanese noodles that resemble pasta, are quickly moving into the mainstream.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *