I've been hearing a lot about these so called "miracle" noodles recently, although they are not new in Asia. They are made from the the konjac plant. The noodles have zero net calories because it's basically all water and soluble fiber. I remember watching a travel show on China where they showed someone making noodles by taking this big glob of jelly and pushing it through a collander like device that has holes in it. The long strings dropped into a vat of boiling water and made noodles.
I've been reading a lot of comments from people who tried it--most people think that they are okay, but the people who don't like these shirataki noodles really hate it. They said it smelled fishy and felt like chewing rubber bands. Well, I had to try them.
I went to my local Asian grocery store and found them in the refrigerated section. The noodles are packed in water. It was only $1.99 for a 16oz bag, which seems pretty good to me, but remember, a lot of that is water. I took it home and started to prepare dinner. I opened the bag, and it does have a slight fishy scent, but nothing really overpowering. I drained it in a collander and rinsed it very well to get rid of the smell. Since they are already cooked, I sampled one of the noodles. Actually I had to break it off because they are very, very long. They really have no taste at all, so I suspect what people say--that they absorb the flavors of the food you cook them with--is true.
I know a lot of people use them as a direct substitute for pasta like spaghetti, but that seemed dicey to me, so I decided to make a stir fry. I just used what I had in the kitchen. I sliced up about 6 oz of beef (grass fed beef from Hedgeapple Farm, of course), chopped up a quarter of an onion, half a green pepper, and a celery stalk, but you can use anything really--snow peas, broccoli, mushrooms--any veggy you have around will do.
For the seasoning, I used my standard mix--salt, sugar, MSG, pepper, and garlic powder. I always use this as a base for stir fries. You can add other things too--ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce--whatever you like. I put this on the beef and veggies before hand. It depends--sometimes I add the seasoning during the stir fry.
While I was chopping up the veggies, I boiled the shirataki noodles for about 5 minutes for good measure, just to make sure any residual smell/taste in the bag were removed. I also added a couple of teaspoons of beef soup base to the water so the noodles would soak up some beef flavor. Once it was done I drained the water and set it aside.
Normally I will blanch the veggies in boiling water for a couple of minutes but I skipped this step this time around. I heated some olive oil in a cast iron pan and tossed the beef for a couple of minutes. Then I took the beef out, added a little more oil, and tossed the veggies in (if I had blanched the veggies I would not have done this). I stir fried the veggies for a couple of minutes and then covered it for a couple of minutes. Then I added the beef back in, and then the noodles. Because the noodles are so long, it's a good idea to cut them because otherwise it's very hard to stir them around in a pan. I covered the pan again for a couple more minutes and then it was done.
So how do they taste? Actually, I was preparing for the worse but they are pretty good. They are similar to Asian cellophane glass noodles (which I love). The texture has a slight crunch though--kind of like squid, but it's nothing like eating rubber bands which some people have compared it to. The noodles really do absorb the flavors of the foods you cook it with. I'm still hesitant about trying it with a tomato based sauce though, although I may work up the courage one day.
If you're a noodle lover, I would definitely give these a try. It's hard to believe they have basically no net calories. I wonder if you gorged yourself on nothing but these noodles, would you starve to death?