Unusual Foods: Shirataki Noodles

—by Monica Rojas

Tofu and plain shirataki noodles can be found at the co-op all the way in the back cooler, the one with eggs, tofu, and tempeh. Upon first glance they seem to be a bag of floating ramen noodles, which is really quite close culinarily. These noodles are made mostly from a type of yam-based flour called konnyaku or konjac flour, and sometimes contain tofu.

According to http://www.konnyaku.com/e_data,
“The first documented use of konjac tuber as a source of food In China and Japan was in the ancient Japanese written work entitled 'Man-you-shuu,' which was edited In the sixth century A.D. A comprehensive collection of historical materials, which reference konjac in novels, essays, and poems, was published by the Japanese Konjac Society in April 1985. The collection of materials document that its use as food is deeply rooted in the lives and customs of the people in Japan and China for centuries. Historically, konnyaku, the alkali-treated konjac flour, was used to cleanse one’s digestive tract of irritating and poisonous substances and keep one’s internal organs clean.”

Shirataki noodles can be used in place of any other noodle, and are gluten-free, low in calories and carbohydrates, cholesterol-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and vegan.

Lemon Smoked Salmon Pasta

(http://www.house-foods.com/uploads/shirataki_noodle_testimonial_and_reci...)
2 bags shirataki spaghetti noodles
1⁄2 pound thin to medium asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
2 scallions, slivered
1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1⁄2 lemon, squeezed
dash of fresh ground pepper
dash of cumin
handful of fresh cilantro
1⁄4 pound smoked salmon, cut crosswise into thin strips
Drain shirataki noodles and cook according to directions on package.
Blanch the asparagus until crisp and tender, approximately two minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine lemon juice and Greek yogurt. Mix well, then stir in scallions, black pepper, and cumin.
Toss pasta and asparagus with the Greek yogurt mixture.
Top each serving with sliced salmon and fresh cilantro. Serve hot or cold.

For a recipe for Sukiyaki Shirataki Noodles go to http://merci-mama.com/girls-do-i-have-a-recipe-for-you.

[Monica Rojas works with elementary-age children, most textiles, and foods.]