Shirataki noodles were originally developed in Asia, but they have recently come to the attention of people around the world. Because these noodles are almost totally a beneficial type of fiber
, they have almost no "bad" carbohydrates. There are some indications that they may have other health benefits as well.
How Shirataki Noodles Are Made:
Shirataki comes from the root of a plant (Amorphophallus Konjac, or a few other closely-related species) grown in various parts of Asia, and given many names in different places, including Konnyaku potato (or just konnyaku), konjac, konjaku, elephant yam (although as far as I can tell, they are not related to any other plant commonly called “yam”), and others. The fiber is also known as glucomannan.
Benefits of Shirataki Noodles:
There is some evidence that glucomannan, when tested as a powdered supplement, can play a role in blood sugar control, as well as improve cholesterol control and weight loss (see this report
). It also contributes to fiber intake and can be a substitute for starchy noodles.
Tofu Shirataki Noodles:
Shirataki noodles tend to be a bit “rubbery.” Although this can be somewhat reduced by a short period of boiling, one food developer found that adding tofu to the shirataki produced a “tamer” texture. It also adds a bit of protein and carbohydrate (1 gram protein and 3 grams carbohydrate per serving). This product is a little easier to find, at least in my area, than plain shirataki noodles.
How to Use Them:
How They Are Packaged:
Shirataki noodles come "wet" - packed in liquid. They are ready to eat out of the package. I usually just rinse them under hot water, cut them up a few times with kitchen shears, and add them to the dish I'm cooking.
As referred to above, the glucomannan powder can be taken in capsules as a supplement. Speak with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
How Shirataki Noodles Taste:
Shirataki noodles don't have a real taste of their own. Although in some cases, the liquid they come in does have a (hard to describe) flavor, I find this can be easily washed off, though some people like to use a short period of boiling.
Where to Find Them:
More Asian grocery stores carry shirataki noodles under one of the names above. They are also getting easier to find in areas with a smaller Asian population. The Safeway near me carries them (in the refrigerator case near the bagged salad greens), as well as health food stores. They will always be in a refrigerated case.
Quite a few different vendors online also have them in stock, including CarbSmart
, Lo Carb-U Foods
and Miracle Noodle
. A search will reveal more.