Shirataki noodles. They’re gluten-free, generally carb- and calorie-free, and made of the konjac plant, otherwise known as devil’s tongue, voodoo lily, snake palm or elephant yam.

With a list of names like that, it should come as no surprise that these are some funky noodles. It’s tough to give a good description — they don’t have much of a taste at all, and the texture is similar to a glass noodle or rice noodle. Have you ever had them?

Shirataki Noodles, take 2

My aunt was the first in our family to discover shirataki noodles – she was on a low-carb diet and these fit the bill. When she realized that they were also gluten-free, she shared them with me. They’re a great addition to a gluten-free pantry, but they take a little getting used to.

Because these noodles are such a blank canvas, you can really do anything with them. Some ideas:

  • Add to miso soup, along with tofu, mushrooms, scallions, and/or your favorite veggies
  • Use as the last ingredient (before sauce) in your favorite stir-fry
  • Eat cold, tossed with peanut sauce (be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce), julienned carrots and cilantro
  • Mix with good olive oil, fresh herbs and shredded parmesan

Generally shirataki noodles are sold in a pouch of water. They usually smell a little strange when they’re first opened, but the smell dissipates when you expose the noodles to heat. Depending on your preference, you can do this in one of two ways:

  1. Rinse the noodles quickly under cold water.
  2. Blanch them quickly in boiling water.

-or, dry roast to increase the flavor absorbency somewhat-

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet on high.
  2. Add noodles and roast for about 1 minute (depending on quantity).
  3. Stir noodles. If you hear a squeaking noise, they’re done – turn off the heat.
  4. If you aren’t using the noodles immediately, add a little oil or broth to prevent sticking.

Shirataki Noodles

It might seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t take any longer than traditional spaghetti. There are also some hybrid noodles that incorporate tofu, for a slightly different taste. Push through the weirdness, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.