Noodling around with shirataki
Please can you suggest a good recipe for using shirataki noodles? I recently bought them to try, because they are so nutritional, and I want to give myself a treat.
Warm regards, Lynda
I love these translucent noodles because they're so unusual. They look like very long whitebait without the eyes and bones - and their texture is one of chewy jelly, like those multi-coloured jelly snakes you ate as children.
The word in Japanese refers to a white waterfall - and when you tip them out of their packet (if you've bought a packet of wet noodles enclosed in a plastic bag with liquid) when they fall into your bowl you'll know why.
As to their nutritional value as far as I'm aware they have almost nothing of benefit to your diet, but they're great if you're on a low-carb diet as the ones made from elephant yam (also known as konjac yam - which actually isn't a yam at all - but no need to worry about the details) have pretty much zero kilojoules.
They're also gluten-free which is a plus in these times of more people feeling they have gluten allergies. I've seen tofu-based shirataki appearing in health shops over the past few years which do have some carbs, but they're also really tasty and great to play around with in the kitchen.
The first time I used them, back in the early 90s in London, they were in a dried form and this is what I usually buy, although as I said earlier they also come in bags containing liquid. I treated them very much the same as I do Chinese vermicelli noodles - in salads packed full of grated fresh coconut, crushed roasted peanuts, thinly sliced steamed scallops, lime juice and plenty of chopped green chilli.
I'll also use them tossed with shredded seared venison, pulled pork or left-over roast or poached chicken, tossed with halved cherry tomatoes and green beans cut into 1cm lengths, dressed with a sweet tamarind dressing containing lots of grated fresh ginger and shredded lemongrass.
However, it's in broths that I think they shine - because they float around looking slightly eel-like and they're great to slurp up out of the bowl using chopsticks.
To make a tasty prawn broth for two, take the head and shells off eight large raw prawns and fry the shells and heads in a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil with a finger of sliced fresh ginger, a sliced spring onion, 2 cloves sliced garlic and ½ a red chilli (more or less to taste). Fry over medium heat until the shells are red and the smell is very prawny.
Add a teaspoon of caster sugar and a tablespoon of soy or fish sauce. Boil till almost evaporated then add 500ml of water. Bring to the boil, put a lid on and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the stock and taste for seasoning.
Cut the prawns into chunks and add to the simmering broth along with another sliced spring onion, ½ a sliced red chilli, and 200g of cooked and rinsed shirataki noodles.
Simmer for 5 minutes or less - just until the prawn tails are cooked. Mix in 6 leaves of bok choy, cut into large pieces, and the juice of ½ a lime or more and eat straight away.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you’re stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.