Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fakey Rice Using Shirataki

There are very few times on this diet where I've actually felt deprived of anything.  Admittedly there was a huge learning curve when the fella and I first started and we spent a lot of time mourning the lost of things we could no longer eat.  After a year of eating this way however we've figured out substitutes for most of the things we could possibly want.  Almond flour has been a blessing, allowing us to make decent faux versions of things like naan and pizza crust that we would otherwise have gone crazy without. 

The one problem almond flour couldn't solve however was the rice issue.  Brown rice is fine on low fat/high carb days.  But what is a girl to do when she has just made a spectacular rich spicy curry with delicious cubes of perfectly marinated meat and veggies floating in it?  To eat it alone like a odd creamy soup seems like a waste of the subtleties of flavor I just spent an hour creating.  Or it might need some sort of carbohydrate to even out the spice level.  And a splendid stir fry is just dull without something hearty to fill out the meal and absorb the sweet but sour sauce dripping off the veggies.

This problem has stymied me until just recently.  I had  been keeping my stir fries and curries on the low fat end of the scale so I could have them with rice but that's no solution for an enterprising foodie like myself.  Enter Shirataki noodles!




A fellow food geek told me about these at a party I was at recently. She said they were her favorite no carb no fat noodle for her gluten free cooking clients. Surely I thought she was exaggerating, not thinking it possible that a food so perfect for the Montignac diet could actually exist. The fella and I went in search of them the next day and found them for around $1 for an 8 ounce bag of them in the refrigerated section of the local Asian grocery stores near the tofu. We leapt for joy, came home and ate them with a stir fry. It was amazing and everything I had been missing about not having rice on fat/no carb days.

Now that I know about Shirataki I've been seeing them everywhere.  The traditional genuinely carb free noodles from Japan I've only found in Asian markets.  They are almost completely flavorless and contain only water and water soluble dietary fiber as they are made from the konjac plant and then suspended in lime resulting in no carbs whatsoever.  (One of my science inclined friends can feel free to chime in to explain how this works, I'm talking about you Stephanie.)  They have a better consistency and hold up to being heated better than the other easier to find variety. 

The other variety, the one I stopped long enough to take a picture of for you is in the tofu section of places like Whole Foods or even in the organic health food section of the produce in chain grocery stores.  These are tofu based and so aren't totally carb free.  They also have a slightly off putting Jello like consistency and are more expensive.

It all depends on what you can find but, both versions are nice options for times when you'd like to be eating rice but they take a little getting used to.  The noodles come floating in a fishy smelling liquid to preserve them which was enough to totally turn off the fella who is no  lover of raw fish or “salted trout flakes” as he so lovingly refers to nori.  They just need some rinsing under cool water to rid them of the fishy smell.  Next I would suggest boiling them for literally one minute, just long enough to heat them through and cook off any remaining fish smell.  Drain them again and toss them with a little toasted sesame oil or hoisin sauce and you're ready to go.  You can even use kitchen scissors to cut the noodles into smaller pieces so  they are more rice like.

Shirtaki has now become my new favorite low carb obsession.  Look at it steamy and coating hoisin sauce though and can you blame me?  No carbs no guilt and tasty.  What's not to love?

4 comments:

Sharon said...

I never thought of this! I am about to go back on no flour/no sugar and I have been wondering about stir fries and curries. I had that problem last time and always wound up cheating.

Ask the fella if the fish smell really goes away enough for him. I have the same issue. Can you use it with pasta sauces, too, and have decent consistency?

Emily said...

The fella said the fish smell really does go away once they're cooked. They still have an odd consistency but are a great rice fake out for stir fries and curries. Unless you could find really thick ones they would be weird and not very filling at all with pasta sauce. That ribboned squash recipe you sent me was really good as fake pasta though. Which reminds me I should post that.

Hope the no flour/no sugar thing goes well for you.

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Simon said...

Might make you feel better to know that the fishy smell is in the juice it's packaged in and not the noodles themselves. Rince, rince and cook (I always cook in stock for the extra flavour).

Love the rice idea thank you, will have to look into it. Until now I've been grating cauliflower, but that's before I discovered shirataki. The cauliflower does work really well too.