Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spaghetti-esque Shirataki Noodles


Sorry it's been a whole month since my last post! The husband came down with the flu which left him bedridden for a week, and I've been busy running around the city and preparing for my trip next week.

I discovered Shirataki noodles here, which are a completely carb-free alternative to your regular pasta noodles. They are derived from the konjac yam, and konjac jelly is pretty popular in Asia. It's used to make noodles, of course, as well a jelly desserts. Konjac has also been found to improve glycemic control and lipid profiles by delaying the absorption of glucose, which may make it useful in treating people with insulin resistance and high-risk diabetics (abstracts here and here).  Both the noodle and jelly forms are virtually calorie-free and composed of glucomannan, and after absorbing water it expands up to 200x its original volume in the stomach, leaving you feeling full. So you can imagine that it's a pretty popular diet food here. Of course, knowing this, when I eat shirataki noodles I make sure I get enough nutrients by adding more veggies and protein to my meals.

Preparing them can be tricky. I did some research prior to purchasing them but there weren't many recipes out there, and the recipes I did find were all asian-based. It seemed a major issue that most people had with them was the smell. The noodles do smell a bit ... fishy. However, I experimented with various ways of preparing them and I found the best way to make them, which I'll share with you below! Texture was also another issue. The noodles definitely don't have the texture of wheat pasta. I would probably describe it more like the texture of rice noodles, the kind my parents use in some Vietnamese noodle dishes. If you've never tried shirataki noodles before, I advise you to try the thin, angel-hair noodles first before the bigger noodles.

This recipe takes a bit more time and effort, but it's totally worth it. I usually make a huge batch and keep them as leftovers for the next few days. In order for the noodles to completely soak in the flavors, it's best to make this the day before you want to eat these, and then heat them up in the oven (for a crispy texture!), fry them on a pan, or microwave the next day.

The only calories you'll be getting from this meal depends on how much beef you use and your pasta sauce, so make sure you also complement your meal with a decent sized portion of veggies on the side!

SPAGHETTI-ESQUE SHIRATAKI

What you'll need:
(Serves 3-4, can easily be doubled or tripled)

For the meat sauce (you can use your own recipe or you can use mine below):
  • 1 can of pasta sauce, any brand or make your own tomato sauce to make sure it's completely gluten-free
  • Some lean, grass-fed ground beef (Use as much as you want, depending on how much beef you like. I used a little less than one lb.)
  • Butter / olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • A handful of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
  • Some ground black pepper to taste
For the noodles:
  • 1 1/2 packets of thin, angel hair shirataki noodles (or use 2 packets, you can always add another half can of pasta sauce if you need to).
Kitchen utensils:
  • 2 large, nonstick pans
  • 1 colander
  • Spatula / wooden spoon

Directions:

To prepare the noodles:
  1. Drain the noodles in a colander and place over running water for a few minutes to rinse. Cut the noodles into thirds, and then place in a pot filled with water.
  2. Heat up the noodles and water, and bring up to a boil. Boil the noodles for about 5 minutes, then drain again. This is to get rid of the smell that most shirataki noodles come with.
  3. Now you want to dry the noodles completely, so the noodles can soak up the sauce. (I like an almost crunchy taste to the noodles, so I personally dry-fry them for awhile to get rid of that chewy texture and make it thinner. Some people absolutely hate the texture of these noodles, so dry-frying them until they're almost crispy helps a little.). Throw the noodles in a large nonstick pan (don't add any olive oil / butter, you want the pan completely dry), and turn the heat up to med-high. Mix the noodles constantly with a spatula / wooden spoon. You'll hear the noodles squeak as they dry. This will probably take you around 5-10 minutes. Make sure all the moisture is out, and then turn off the heat and leave them in the skillet as you prepare your meat sauce.
Meat sauce:
  1. Heat up some butter or olive oil in another large nonstick pan. Add the ground beef, and break it up into little pieces with your spatula / spoon, and then fry on the pan over med heat until well browned and even crispy. Depending on how much beef you use, this might take 10-15 minutes. That's the key to getting the flavor in this meat sauce, I swear. I always cook it until the little bits are a deep dark brown and crispy.
  2. After the meat is nice and browned, add in the onions and garlic. Stir and cook for a few more minutes, until the onions and garlic carmelize nicely.
  3. Add in the pasta sauce, and adjust heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  4. Add in the oregano, black pepper, and basil. Stir well, and simmer for another couple minutes.
Combining the meat sauce and noodles:
  1. Pour the dried noodles into the pan with the meat sauce, and heat on med heat for a few minutes. If you're using two packets and you feel like you need more sauce, then by all means throw in some more tomato / pasta sauce!
  2. Turn off the heat, transfer the noodles in the meat sauce into a large heat-proof container. Let it cool down completely, and then refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight. You could skip this step and just eat it as soon as you're done cooking, but I've found that the flavors incorporate better into the noodles when I refrigerate it first.
  3. When you're ready to eat, reheat in the microwave, stovetop, or oven and serve with some grated Parmesan on top. Since I don't have a microwave, I always bake it in the oven at 375F for about 15 minutes. Baking it in the oven gives it a nice crispy texture on top, which I love!

The texture of the noodles may not be for everyone, but I find that cooking it this way with the shirataki gives a little twist to the old school spaghetti that most of us are used to, especially when you bake it in the oven the next day! This dish is positively yummy. It might take a bit more effort than making regular pasta, but it's totally worth it if you're watching your caloric / carb intake but still want a tasty meal. I missed eating spaghetti a lot, but now I can have it anytime I want without having to worry about the carbs!




6 comments:

  1. Our family enjoys shirataki noodles. Your recipe sounds delicious! will try.

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  2. Your recipes is looking so yummy i'll definately going to make this dish !!

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  3. thanks, I'm going to try this. I didn't like the texture of shirataki so i'll try your method of frying them first without oil and then do the meat and marinara recipe. Thanks!
    jenny, from http://bestjuicermachinereviews.org

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    1. Hi Jenny! Yes, I definitely found that frying them first helped with the texture. Hope you enjoy it!

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  4. I've used Shirataki noodles a few times. They are not as tasty as real pasta, but if you're watching Carbs, they are an awesome alternative.

    I'm not sure you really need to mess around boiling them. Drain them and rinse them. Then dry-fry them. I haven't tried Dry-frying them, though that sounds promising.

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  5. Just bought some noodles, thanks for all the advice you've given in this recipe. Can't wait to try it!

    Shelly

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