Shirataki noodles (top) and other ingredients in a donabe
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|Noodles (konjac yam)|
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Shirataki (白滝?, often written with the hiragana しらたき) are very low carbohydrate, low calorie, thin, translucent, gelatinous traditional Japanese noodles made from devil's tongue yam (elephant yam or the konjac yam). The word "shirataki" means "white waterfall", describing the appearance of these noodles. Largely composed of water and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber, they have little flavor of their own.
Shirataki noodles can be found both in dry and soft "wet" forms in Asian markets and some supermarkets. When wet, they are purchased pre-packaged in liquid. They normally have a shelf life of up to one year. Some brands may require rinsing or par-boiling as the water they are packaged in has an odor that may be unpleasant to those not accustomed to it.
Alternatively, the noodles can be drained and dry roasted. This gets rid of the bitterness. It also makes the noodles have a more pasta like consistency. Dry roasting is done by placing noodles in a non-stick skillet on high for a minute or until you hear a slight squeaking noise when moving them around. After that they are ready to be added to soup stock or have a sauce added to them.
There are two types of shirataki noodles sold in the United States. Traditional shirataki noodles have zero net carbohydrates, no food energy, and no gluten, and they are useful to those on low-carbohydrate diets. Tofu-based shirataki-style noodles are becoming increasingly popular in U.S. supermarkets and health food stores. They have a much shorter shelf life and require refrigeration even before opening. Tofu-based noodles contain a minimal amount of carbohydrate.
The glucomannan noodles come from the root of an Asian plant called konjac (full name Amorphophallus konjac). It has been nicknamed the elephant yam, and also called konjaku, konnyaku, or the konnyaku potato.
Ito konnyaku and shirataki
There used to be a difference in manufacturing methods; in the Kansai region of Japan, ito konnyaku was prepared by cutting konnyaku jelly into threads, while in the Kantō region, shirataki was prepared by extruding konnyaku sol through small holes into a hot lime solution in high concentration. Nowadays, both are prepared using the latter method. Ito konnyaku is generally thicker than shirataki, with a square cross section and a darker color. It is preferred in the Kansai region.
- Hui, Yiu. "Handbook of food science, technology, and engineering, Volume 4." CRC Press: 2006. p. 157-11.
- Konjac Shirataki Noodles
- House Foods America Corporation: Other Products
- About.com Shirataki Site About.com's information about shirataki noodles, how they are made and where to get them.
- Hui, Yiu. "Handbook of food science, technology, and engineering, Volume 4." CRC Press: 2006. p. 157-12.
- (Japanese) 「糸こんにゃく」と「しらたき」論争, Tokyo Gas
- Konnyaku and Shirataki FAQ What they are made of, historical background, use as diet food with caveats on JustHungry.com