For people on a low-carb, keto, paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free, or vegan diet, it can be tough finding a suitable noodle-like product – which is why shirataki noodles have been nicknamed “miracle noodles.” In fact, the brand that goes by this very name is described as being “low calorie, low/no carb, grain-free, blood sugar-friendly, gluten-free, and weight loss-friendly” and the Miracle Noodle brand (which can be found at Spinneys stores) creates products in both noodle and rice form. So what are these mysterious shirataki noodles made of? They’re created out of konjac, a plant that’s native to Asia. Historically consumed in Japan for decades (as well as in Korea and China), Konjac can be used in many ways, from jellies and flours to the magical noodle. It’s also used in beauty products, since when softened in water, the hard-when-dry sponge can deep-cleanse the skin.
While in terms of vitamins and minerals, konjac doesn’t boast as much as some other foods, it’s very commonly used as an ingredient for weight loss and cholesterol management thanks to its extremely low calorie count, and high fibre and water content – in short, this is a product that’s able to fill you up without costing you much in terms of calories and weight gain, and the high fibre content can also help to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels, while keeping you full, and helping with bowel movements (just don’t overdo it, as with any super high-fibre product).
How do you use it?
While konjac is available as a supplement, the tastiest ways to eat it are probably in noodle and rice format. When cooking these, be sure to rinse them in fresh water to remove any gelatinousness in the texture (or any odour), and then drain or dry them before cooking to ensure that they don’t go gloopy or mushy – therein is the secret to cooking with konjac food products and having them act as a more successful replacement for traditional noodles or rice. Once that’s done, however, you can use it any way you’d use the “normal” version, from spaghetti or pasta dishes to stir-fries and more.
Konjac is known by many names, including “voodoo lily”, “elephant yam,” “devil’s tongue” or “konjac potato”. The flour is used for thickening and emulsifying soups and sauces, and can also be used to make biscuits – but the noodles are also said to be great for cooks who struggle with getting an al-dente texture, since they are technically impossible to overcook. They are typically sold packaged in water for consumption since when dry, they shrink, and can expand in up to 60 times their original volume when they come into contact with water. With beauty sponges, they’re usually sold dry and need to be soaked or wetted before use.