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April 20, 2013

Culinary Conversation: Trendy shirataki noodles with napa cabbage

NEW CASTLE — Since tofu shirataki noodles hit grocery shelves just a few years ago, they’ve moved out of the Asian groceries and health-food stores and into mainstream markets.

That’s because everybody likes them. What’s not to like about a bouncy, springy white noodle with 20 calories, half a gram of fat and only 3 grams of carbs (2 of which are dietary fiber) per 4-ounce serving?

If you’re trying to be healthier in general or just worried about the upcoming swimsuit season, shirataki noodles can be your friend.

Shirataki noodles are a Japanese invention, made from the starch of the konjac yam root. This "starch" is composed of glucomannan, a dietary fiber. When made with konjac only, the noodles are transparent and have no food value whatsoever. Tofu is sometimes added to give a white appearance and some nutrition.

The noodles are a good pasta substitute, and are a welcome addition to the diet of those eating gluten-free, reduced-calorie or reduced-carb meals.

When preparing tofu shirataki, empty from the package and drain, and rinse well if you don’t enjoy the "shrimpy" odor. Use as is, or stir very briefly in a hot, nonstick pan to firm the noodles slightly. Serve as soon as you mix the noodles with sauce or broth, because shirataki noodles can shrink and give off moisture when hot.

Shirataki noodles are traditionally served in soup, but can be tossed with stir fry or even with Italian-style pasta sauces.

Tofu shirataki noodles with Napa cabbage

Serves 2

  • 1 tablespoon canola or grape-seed oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded or fine julienne carrot
  • 2 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white or regular soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 8-ounce package tofu shiratake noodles
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seed, toasted

Heat the oil in a wide skillet and add the garlic. Fry for 1 minute, but do not let the garlic brown. Add the carrot and cabbage and fry, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Add to the skillet, toss and add the shirataki noodles. Toss just long enough to heat.

Serve immediately, garnished with the toasted sesame seed.


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