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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Pasta Without The Carbs

Have all the noodles you want; these tofu
shirataki are very low in calories. Photo
courtesy House Foods.

 

Why is “comfort food” high-carb food? What’s a pasta lover to do?

Well, there’s spaghetti squash, and you can shred zucchini into a form that cooks up like pasta (and is delicious topped with sauce and grated cheese).

And then there’s shirataki.

WHAT IS SHIRATAKI?

Shirataki are Japanese noodles that are very low in calories and carbohydrate (many have zero). They are thin and translucent, made from the colorfully named devil’s tongue yam (also called elephant yam or konjac yam). They are fat-free, gluten-free and soy-free. There are also varieties made from tofu, which does have soy and a modest number of calories.

The Miracle Noodle brand is certified kosher by OU. The company also makes “rice” from the same yam.

 

“Shirataki” means “white waterfall” in Japanese, a term that describes the appearance of the very white yam noodles (the tofu noodles have a more pasta-like color).

Largely composed of water and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber from the yam, they have little flavor of their own. But top with tomato sauce or add to a cup of broth, and you’ve got a pretty darn good pasta substitute. Like tofu (and the tofu shirataki), they easily absorb the flavors of any dish or sauce.

A special benefit: The soluble fiber slows digestion and prolongs the sensation of fullness.

 

The yam-based noodles have recently been joined by tofu-based shirataki-style noodles. They require refrigeration and contain a minimal amount of carbohydrate.

Shirataki noodles can be found both in dry and “wet” forms in Asian markets, some supermarkets and online. The wet noodles, most frequently found, are packaged in liquid.

There are many offerings out there. The NoOodle brand has meal starters at 20 calories per serving, that allow you to enjoy great-tasting meals without packing on the pounds. They also have 50-calorie soups. The line includes:

  • Tomato Infused Angel Hair, angel hair NoOodles in a tomato flavored broth
  • Chicken Flavor Infused Angel Hair NoOodles in a light chicken broth
  • Chicken NoOodle Soup, prepared with chicken and fresh vegetables in a natural chicken broth
  •  

    Shirataki noodles are made in favorite cuts, from angel hair and fettuccine to spaghetti. There are even ziti and “spinach noodles.”Photo courtesy Miracle Noodle.

  • Tomato Risotto with diced tomatoes, spinach, and basil prepared in a tomato sauce
  •  
    COOKING TIPS

  • There is a fishy aroma when you open some packages, possibly from the preservatives. Once the noodles are rinsed and boiled, it is gone and there is no unpleasant taste. Be sure to follow the package directions.
  • The texture is gelatinous. Pat the noodles dry with paper towels) before adding to the recipe. If you still don’t like the texture, try this technique: Rinse 4-5 minutes, boil for 5-7 minutes, then rinse again in cold water again for a minute. If you want the noodles hotter, put them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
  • An easy dish: heat olive oil and a garlic in a pan and add the rinsed, blotted noodles. Add whatever proteins and vegetables you have. It’s a delicious dish. You can also toss shirataki into stir-frys.
  • Some fans say the recipes taste better the next day.
  •  
    We’re coming up on the Year Of The Horse; but this may also be the Year Of The Shirataki Noodle.

      





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