They’ve been called everything from “miracle noodles” to “skinny pasta.” And they’re so versatile (because their neutral taste allows them to blend into any dish) that they could also easily be called the “chameleon noodle.”
What is this remarkable ingredient?
Once only seen in Japan and in Asian restaurants, this noodle is becoming more and more popular in the states and is finding its way into all sorts of innovative recipes.
Shirataki noodles are white, rather slender, semi-transparent Japanese noodles made from a yam. The word “shirataki” itself means “white waterfall” mostly due to how these noodles might look if cascading off a fork, hopefully into your waiting mouth.
What does shirataki taste like?
Because these noodles are primarily composed of water and a substance called glucomannan (which is a water-soluble dietary fiber), they are rather flavorless, yet they absorb flavors of other ingredients like a sponge. They’re also low in digestible carbs and calories, which makes them a favorite ingredient for those watching their weight and for those looking for a carbohydrate with a low glycemic index.
Shirataki noodles are sold in two forms, dry and in liquid. Those packed in liquid have about a 1-year shelf life and are best if rinsed before use since the liquid they are packaged in is primarily for preservation.
Because the flavor of shirataki is so neutral, what most people enjoy about this noodle is its texture, which is glassy, slippery, and slightly chewy. Their consistency can be altered to become more pasta-like by draining, rinsing them dry, and sautéing them in a non-stick pan to remove some of their excess liquids. From there, they can be added to dishes with sauces, vegetables, or even meats to create delicious meals.
There are many brands of shirataki noodles, including ones that have tofu added to them for additional flavor. At Nino’s, we carry “House Brand” in 4 different shapes (angel hair, macaroni, fettuccine, and spaghetti). They are generally located in a refrigerated case in our specialty produce aisle.
What else can you use shirataki noodles for?
As mentioned, shirataki noodles are great in Asian noodle dishes, but people have used them in lots of other ways, including chilled salads and any recipe you might have used traditional fettuccini noodles or spaghetti in.
If you’ve never tried shirataki, let me suggest a recipe that should give you a great introduction. It can be adapted to a more “Thai Style” by adding 3 TBSP of peanut butter, ¼ cup coconut milk and 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger, which you can sauté with the vegetables.
Shirataki Stir Fry: Serves 2
2 TBSP Vegetable Oil 1 tsp Fresh Garlic, Minced 1 Zucchini Outer Skin Cut ¼” Thick & Then Julienned 1 Yellow Squash Outer Skin Cut ¼” Thick & Then Julienned ½ Red Bell Pepper Cut Julienne ½ cup Matchstick Carrots ½ cup Broccoli Florets ½ cup Snow Peas or Pea Pods, Trimmed ½ cup Red Onion, Cut Julienne 1 Package Shirataki Noodles, Rinsed & Drained ¾ cup Teriyaki Sauce (Soy Vay Brand Recommended) 2 TBSP Mirin, Sweet Rice Wine or Sherry 2 TBSP Sesame Oil 1 TBSP Cornstarch
In a large non-stick skillet, sauté garlic and all vegetables in the vegetable oil for 3 to 5 minutes.
Add shirataki, and sauté 2 minutes.
Mix together teriyaki sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and cornstarch, and add to sauté mixture. Bring to a simmer.
Serve and then garnish with some sesame seeds.
NOTE: If making the Thai version, add the minced ginger in with the vegetable, and add the peanut butter and coconut milk in at the very end after adding and simmering the teriyaki sauce mixture.