Shirataki are traditional Japanese noodles made from the high-fiber konjac root. Since they are basically made of fiber and water, shirataki noodles have no nutritional value (no calories, no net carbs) despite being very filling. They also have no flavor of their own, which makes them an ideal vehicle for absorbing soups and sauces.
I find that shirataki noodles make a good pasta and noodle substitute, as long as you prepare them correctly (instructions below) – otherwise they are rubbery, slimy and unpleasant to eat. But prepared correctly and mixed with a yummy sauce, or added to soup, they do give a satisfactory answer to your noodle cravings, if you happen to have them.
Shirataki noodles also have health benefits. Konjac root is basically glucomannan, a soluble fiber, or prebiotic. It encourages the growth of good bacteria in our stomach. It CAN cause extra gas production in some people, so start slowly and see how it affects you.
There are plenty of ways to use shirataki noodles, but my favorite is the simplest – buttered shirataki noodles with Parmesan. Here’s how to make them.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Measure out your butter and Parmesan, and mix the salt, black pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl.
- Using scissors, open the shirataki noodles package. Pour its contents into a colander. Ignore the slightly fishy smell - it will rinse/cook out. Rinse the noodles under cold running water for a full minute.
- Use clean kitchen scissors to cut the noodles in half - they are too long to eat as they are.
- By now, your water should be boiling. Transfer the noodles to the boiling water, bring back to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. While the noodles boil, heat a clean, dry medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat.
- Pour the cooked noodles back into the colander and drain well. Transfer the noodles to the hot skillet and dry-roast them (adding no oil to the skillet), stirring, for 1-2 minutes, until they are visibly dry and make a squeaking sound when moved in the skillet. This step will get rid of the shirataki's rubbery texture, and help them better absorb the sauce compared to when slippery and wet.
- Add the butter to the skillet. Thoroughly mix it into the shirataki noodles, coating the noodles evenly. The noodles look much better now - they started out translucent-white and slimy; turned into a more opaque white after dry-roasted; and now, covered in butter, they are golden and smell really good.
- Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder, mixing them evenly into the noodles. Turn the heat off, and mix in the Parmesan. Serve immediately.