Shiratake Noodles

I found some shiratake noodles (しらたき) in the fresh-tofu section of the store the other day. They are a chewy noodle made from yams, but processed so much that there’s no yam flavor left. Or any flavor. Or any carbs. Or any calories. Or anything. I mean it — zeros across the board.

The base plant is the Devil’s Tongue Yam, and the initial product from it is a wobbly, gelatin-like substance called konnyaku, sold in slabs about the size of a pound of butter. It’s used in a lot of Japanese cooking, because it takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with. Here’s a picture of a non-standard use.

konnyaku

Fresh from the fridge

To make the noodles, it’s run through the konnyaku equivalent of a pasta maker, and comes out about the same size and shape as standard spaghetti, only limp. Packed in water, it keeps about a year. Here’s some more detail.

We tried using it the same way you’d use spaghetti squash. Or spaghetti, for that matter. If you want more recipes, here’s a site. Note that the product pic on their site is of the brand of shiratake noodles that includes tofu as well as konnyaku.

How we did it: Open the package and drain the water. Net weight is 14oz, about right for two adults. Rinse under running water for two or three minutes, to get the chemicals off (the water contains calcium hydroxide, the same chemical Native Americans used to soak corn in to release its Niacin. It’s not likely to kill you but it tastes chemicky).* Drain it and drop it into a non-stick pan at medium-high heat to drive off the rest of the moisture and chemtaste. You know it’s done when it makes a hissing sound when you move it around in the pan.

We then added a big glop of leftover spaghetti sauce, made with hamburger. How big is a glop? Enough for two people. Your choice. Heat until heated. The noodles will cut with a stiff spatula, so you can cut them down to a manageable size while heating.

Result: Very good, but that was the sauce. The noodles were there, unobtrusive, and if I had to characterize them, I’d say they were almost, but not quite, totally unlike spaghetti. Say, more like sauce-flavored, very tender, rubber bands. Not my go-to food for a good time, but inoffensive and filling, and, like I said, zeros.

*Recent (2015) blogging says you can soak spaghetti noodles in it overnight to turn them into ramen noodles.

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4 Responses to “Shiratake Noodles”

  1. Kurt Says:

    I remember reading a fantasy story once about the 4 Horsemen, with Famine flooding the earth with zero calorie foods and whipping up the weight loss industry to a frenzy, essentially starving people to death by leveraging their vanity.

    You know, of course, by being a systems scientist that there’s no such thing as zero impact foods and that the nutrient charts on the back are somewhat disconnected from reality (and don’t take into account chemical reactions when mixed with other foods).

    I like your def of a glop. Although it could be enough for one teen or two hungry adults.

  2. Oatmeal Extenders | FoundOnWeb Says:

    […] exotic than shiratake noodles, made from the devils own tongue. If you remember from an earlier, non-oatmeal, entry, shiratake noodles are translucent wormlike things made of konnyaku starch. No calories to speak […]

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