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What are Shirataki Noodles?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2014
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Shirataki noodles are a type of Asian noodle made from the root of the konjac plant. The noodles are very high in fiber, but have a low carbohydrate content, making them very popular with certain dieters. Like other foods high in fiber, Shirataki noodles may have other health benefits as well, including a reduction in the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Shirataki noodles are available at most Asian specialty stores, as well as major grocery stores in areas with a large Asian population.

The name shirataki means white waterfall in Japanese, a reference to how the noodles look when removed from their packaging. They are usually packed wet in plastic, meaning that they are ready to use immediately and can be stored for up to one year at room temperature. When opened, the noodles should be drained and rinsed before use. Texturally, the noodles are a little bit rubbery and springy, and the noodles do not have a strong flavor. In appearance, shirataki noodles resemble rice noodles, with a white and somewhat translucent color.

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The konjac plant is known by a variety of other names, including Amorphophallus konjac, konjaku, konnyaku, and elephant yam. The plant is actually not related to any members of the yam family, so the belief that shirataki noodles are made from yam flour is erroneous. The plants can reach 30 inches (76 centimeters) in height, and have dark green leaves with white spots. When the konjac flowers, it produces large purple to brown blooms. Konjac is cultivated from Indonesia to Japan for its edible tubers.

Shirataki noodles can be used in a wide range of dishes. They are delicious in Asian stir fries, because they will take on the flavor of the sauce and seasonings used. Many dieters have also used the noodles successfully in Western style dishes as well, including noodle salads and pasta dinners. The somewhat bland shirataki noodle reflects taste very well, and the only real limitation on its use is the imagination of the cook.

Diners should be aware that shirataki noodles tend to expand in the stomach as digestive enzymes act upon the glucomannan, the primary ingredient extracted from the konjac root. If you are experimenting with shirataki noodles for the first time, it is recommended that you try a small serving first, to avoid feelings of bloat and discomfort. If the texture of shirataki noodles is not to your taste, you may want to try tofu shirataki noodles, which are blended to create a more familiar noodle texture.

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Discuss this Article

turquoise
Post 3

@simrin-- No, shirataki noodles are not meant to be boiled at all, but I do think that they are best in soups and stew like foods because there is more water for them to soak up.

If you made a thick sauce for the pasta, I'm guessing that the noodles didn't have much to absorb and it probably didn't taste too good without the flavors it would normally be infused with if it were in a soup.

Next time, try rinsing the noodles (very quickly) with hot or warm water and make a more watery pasta sauce. Let the noodles sit in the sauce for a while so that it can soak it up.

By the way, which kind of shirataki noodles did you use? I have friends who love shirataki but hate tofu shirataki. You should try some other varieties because you might like those more. There is also shirataki noodle dumplings which are really good.

SteamLouis
Post 2

So are shirataki noodles supposed to be boiled or not?

My roommate bought a packet of this a few weeks ago and told me that she is going to make a healthy pasta but these noodles seemed so wrong for it! It was so rubbery that we ended up eating more of the sauce rather than the noodles.

I'm not sure if we did something wrong. We rinsed the noodles with water and then dried them and I think that's what the directions on it said too. But when we started eating, it almost felt like it wasn't really cooked.

I'm wondering if we were supposed to soak it in hot water or boil it for a few minutes. Any ideas?

fify
Post 1

I used to cook with Asian cellophane noodles a lot before. But then, my friend introduced me to shirataki noodles which are far better nutrition wise I think. Cellophane noodles are really high in carbohydrates and have much less fiber than shirataki noodles.

Now I cook with both regular and tofu shirataki noodles and I love it! It's low in calories and carbs and you get plenty of fiber or protein.

I also read that shirataki noodles help control blood sugar so that it doesn't spike up or fall down suddenly. That means less cravings and more weight loss. I don't have a problem with blood sugar but I think that this would be a good choice for diabetics as well.

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