Much like the old meditation, “If a tree falls down in the forest, and no one is around to heart it, does it make a sound?” this noodle question messes with your mind.
But noodles, by definition, must be made of carbohydrates, which contain calories. If my very understand of a noodles is incorrect, what else about my perspective in wrong? Who am I? Where am I?
These translucent noodles are made from the powdered root of the Asian konjac yam. After processing, the noodles from this yam consist mostly of a no-calorie, highly soluble fiber called glucomannan. And that fiber is why shirataki is more than just a pasta imposter.
According to a study review by University of Connecticut researchers, glucomannan helps lower bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, and even body weight. What’s more, scientists in Thailand found that just 1 gram has the power to significantly slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream after you eat a carb-loaded meal. Translation: Shirataki noodles can make almost any meal healthier.
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Except, as always, there’s a catch. Shirataki noodles have almost no flavor, and, in fact, can have an “smell” to them if you’re not use to working them into your meals.
But the upside is that they soak up the flavors of sauces and spices in any dish—if you know what you’re doing. And that odor is actually just the liquid that the noodles come packaged with. Rinse them off and cook them and it’ll be a non-factor.
So, what to cook?
Soy Pork Shirataki Stir-Fry
The shirataki noodles create a high-fiber base in this flavor-packed stir-fry, courtesy of Ming Tsai, chef and owner of Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and host of American Public Television’s Simply Ming.
What You’ll Need:
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup naturally brewed soy sauce (sub in low-sodium soy, if you prefer)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 head bok choy, rinsed, spun dry, and cut into pieces
1/2 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-by-1-inch pieces
1 lb ground pork, browned
2 cups fettuccine-type shirataki noodles, packed, rinsed well (three times), and drained
How to Make it:
1. Coat the bottom of a saucepan lightly with canola oil and place it on medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the lime juice, soy sauce, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and let the mixture reduce by a third to a syrup consistency, 8 to 10 minutes. To check consistency, pour a line of syrup on a cool dish and hold it vertically. If the line holds with a few drips, it’s ready.
3. Use some oil to lightly coat the bottom of a large, hot wok over high heat. (If you don’t have a wok, you can use a skillet over high heat.) When the oil is shimmering, add the bok choy, scallion whites, and red bell peppers, and stir-fry until they’re slightly softened, about 1 minute. Add the pork, noodles, and garlic-ginger-soy syrup, and stir to coat the noodles with sauce. Check for flavor, and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve family-style on a platter, garnished with scallion greens. Serves 4
Per serving: 461 calories, 35 grams (g) protein, 27 g carbohydrates, 25 g fat, 7 g fiber.
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