What Are Yam Noodles?

Lainie Petersen

Yam noodles, also known as shirataki noodles, are a type of pasta that is prepared from konjac yam flour. This flour is primarily non-digestable fiber, which makes these noodles virtually calorie and carbohydrate free. They are available in several shapes and are typically packaged in a brine. Cooks should drain this brine and rinse the noodles thoroughly before adding yam noodles to recipes. The noodles themselves are flavorless, making them quite adaptable to all sorts of recipes. Some versions contain tofu, which slightly increases the amount of calories and carbohydrates, but also adds protein and gives the noodles flexibility and a softer texture.

Some people find that shirataki noodles work well as a low carbohydrate alternative to traditional pasta.
Some people find that shirataki noodles work well as a low carbohydrate alternative to traditional pasta.

While yam noodles are traditionally used in Japanese cuisine, many people in other countries use them to help address dietary concerns such as the need to eliminate gluten or reduce calories or carbohydrates in the diet. As shirataki noodles are essentially flavorless, they can be used with a variety of recipes, because there is generally no flavor contrast between noodles and sauce or other ingredients used. While many people find that yam noodles typically work best when integrated into Asian recipes or recipes that use Asian-style sauces and seasonings, it is possible to use the noodles in other types of pasta dishes. For example, it is possible to find yam noodles that have been prepared as typical Italian-style pastas, such as fettuccine.

Cooking yam noodles is typically not a complicated process. The noodles are already flexible, so it is possible to simply rinse them off and then add them directly to a recipe or cover them with some type of sauce or stir fry. Some cooks like to briefly blanch them before serving, as this thoroughly heats the noodles and can provide a better texture.

One difficulty in using the noodles in cooking is removing as much moisture from the noodles as possible. If the moisture is not removed, it can slowly seep from the noodles and make any sauce used on the watery side. Many people find that a process of draining the rinsed noodles in a colander and then rolling them in dry paper towels repeatedly can help remove this moisture. Another option is to place the noodles in a dry, non-stick skillet or wok that has been heated on a stove top. The noodles should be tossed around to encourage moisture to evaporate. Heat can, however, change the texture of the noodles and make them rubbery, so this process of heating the noodles should not be done for more than a minute.

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