Shirataki Noodles a Miracle Food?

In Asia they have long enjoyed a type of pasta made from the konjac root. Big deal, right? Pasta is pasta. Not true of this particular pasta. Shirataki or hiragana noodles have only 3 grams of carbohydrates but 1 gram of lean protein and just 20 calories in a 4 ounce serving. Most Americans have heard of them thanks to Rocco DiSirito’s recent appearance on the Rachael Ray Show.

Shirataki noodles are mostly water and glucomannan (from the konjac root), a water-soluble dietary fiber. Though they have little flavor of their own, they easily absorb the flavor of whatever they are served with. Their are some varieties that include tofu, this slightly increases the protein. More importantly it makes the texture more tender. The tofu-less variety tends to have a rubbery texture that may seem odd to the Western palate.

Cheflebrity Ming Tsai, owner of Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and the host of American Public Television’s Simply Ming recently contributed a recipe using shirataki noodles to Men’s Health Magazine. Here it is:

Soy Pork Shirataki Stir-Fry

Canola oil
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

The Men’s Health piece features more information and recipes for this amazing pasta.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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