Maybe you’ve seen the strange bags of what looks like noodles floating in water in the market, as I have, but haven’t been brave enough to buy them or even know what to do with them. It’s hard to continually ignore a package that proclaims, “Zero Calories, Gluten Free, Vegan, Soy Free, Cholesterol Free” for very long without saying to yourself, “What the heck is this guilt-free food?”
These odd little packages of noodles or pasta are generically called “shirataki” pasta. Shirataki, meaning “white waterfall” in Japanese, are thin, translucent Japanese noodles made from the konjac yam. This “yam” is not really a yam as we know it in the United States, but is the bulbous root of the plant, which are pushed through a grid of sharp blades to produce noodles. Or they dry the yam and grind it into a “flour” and make the noodles from it. Konjac is grown all over Asia and is also used to create a vegan substitute for gelatin and a vegan substitute for alternative seafood product like scallops, crab, shrimp etc.
Most of the root of the konjac plant consists of glucomannan, which is a water soluble fiber, making these noodles very high in dietary fiber—one of it’s claimed health benefits. Products containing glucomannan are sometimes sold as nutritional supplements for constipation, obesity, high cholesterol, acne and diabetes and, although there have been clinical reports supporting these benefits, the FDA has not approved it for treatments of these medical conditions. Canada’s health department has authorized some products containing glucomannan for the purposes of appetite reduction, constipation and high cholesterol. Shirataki-style noodles are also made from tofu, which have a different nutritional content. They can be found in both dry and wet forms.
My curiosity about these noodles stemmed from my love of pasta, my continuous search for healthy vegan products, the rarity of a no calorie, natural food and the bonus that it’s gluten-free. As you can see from my little visual here, there can’t be too many other products that fall into that category so it had to be worth a try. If you know of any other food or product that can keep shirataki noodles company in my Venn diagram (I love quirky Venn diagrams…thank you, Demetri Martin!), I implore you to let me know!
I bought four bags of the shirataki product called Miracle Noodle in both angel hair and fettucini in my local supermarket in the “healthy” section. There are other varieties like ziti , spinach angel and black angel hair. It’s important to note that these noodles have really no flavor of their own so it will take on the flavors of the other ingredients that you combine with it. This company also claims that the noodles slow the digestive process and keep you feeling fuller longer!
It seems, from what I’ve read, the most important step in making these zero calorie noodles is rinsing them after you’ve emptied the package into a colander. People on the web said that the rinsing is key to getting rid of an odor when you open the package but I didn’t find there to be much of an odor. Anyway, some say to rinse with boiling water and some with hot tap water for a couple of minutes but the instructions on the package just say rinse with water. After rinsing, you boil the noodles for a minute in a pot of water and that’s it–you’re done! Then drain them again and pat dry with a paper towel or hand towel. They are now ready to use in an abundance of recipes. The texture is definitely different from regular Italian pasta but it was delicious and very filling.
On the Miracle Noodle website, I found a simple recipe for a dish that I love to order at Asian restaurants and to make at home with regular pasta or rice noodles—Hot or Cold Shirataki Sesame Noodles. Any calories from this dish come from everything else in the recipe, not the noodles. I’m never going to make this dish with any other noodles again!!
Hot Or Cold Shirataki Sesame Noodles
2 7oz bags of Miracle Noodle Shirataki Angel Hair.
1 tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos (Low Sodium Soy Sauce can be used).
1 tablespoons raw unsalted peanut butter. 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar.
1/2 tablespoon dark sesame oil.
2 cups shredded white cabbage.
1 cup bean sprouts.
3 scallions, chopped.
1 tablespoon sesame seeds.
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce(optional).
- Open bag of Miracle Noodles into a colander draining the water that the noodles are packed in. Boil for one minute, drain and pat dry with a paper towel or small hand towel.
- In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together Bragg’s, peanut butter, vinegar, sesame oil, and hot sauce(optional). Add noodles and veggies and toss to combine the noodles and coat them evenly with sauce. Sprinkle scallions and sesame seeds throughout the salad and serve.
- Or you can heat the sauce for a couple of minutes in a sauce pan, then add noodles and serve hot!
It’s makes great leftovers the next day!!
My family really loved it and couldn’t get enough. I should have made more and I promised that I would buy them again soon. I have also read that frying the noodles dry in a pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray for about 8 minutes which will result in closer to a texture of wheat pasta. I’m definitely going to try that too next time!
Leaning Into Veganism