Japanese secret for weight loss: Super low-calorie, low-carb noodle
You may have heard it before: Shirataki. Some people say it’s great low carb food when you are trying to lose weight or fighting pre-diabetes, diabetes, or gestational diabetes.
But it is it another fad?
And how does it taste?
Shirataki has actually been in Japanese diet for centuries. Konnyaku (or Konjac), a “jello” made from Japanese mountain yam potato juice, comes in white or grey hue. “Shirataki”is the konnyaku cut into noodle shapes (means “White Waterfall” in Japanese).
Originally popular among buddhist monks starting in about 12th century as part of their vegan diet, it’s now a popular food for weight loss and health promotion in Japan. Besides being extremely low in calorie and carb, it also contains high fiber, which helps you feel full and keep you full.
Does it work? Yep. I eat it, and my blood sugar stays low, unlike other noodles that raise my sugar. You know why? One serving of Shirataki contains 0 to 4 grams of carb and typically less than 15 calories, depending on the brand.
ZERO to FOUR grams? Thats’ not a typo!!!!! That’s a WHOLE LOT LESS than 32 grams of carb and 165 calories in spaghetti for the same 3/4 cup serving. No wonder Japanese people have been using it for weight loss.
Does it taste good? Absolutely! AMAZING! if you know how to cook it.
My test is “does my picky 4-year-old eat them?” and Shirataki definitely passes the test. My son actually prefers it over regular noodles, but given that he is underweight (in American scale anyway) I have to make sure he doesn’t fill himself up with these super low calorie noodles.
But, there are RIGHT WAYS to cook them. Otherwise you end up feeling like one amazon reviewer who described them as “a bunch of worms” after eating them straight out of the bag uncooked. In my experience, most of the recipe sites in English never describe the right away to cook them. So here it is!!!
HOW TO COOK SHIRATAKI
- Shirataki comes packaged in some fishy smelling liquid. This is the alkaline firming agent to make the “jello” — it’s not bad for you, it just doesn’t smell great. Discard/drain the water right away.
- Your recipe or the package will say “you can use straight out of the bag after draining! no need to boil first!” Don’t believe it. DO boil it first!! Japanese people ALWAYS boil these noodles for 2–3 minutes first before using in any dish, and I HIGHLY recommend doing so. It removes the unique odor and makes it easier for Shirataki to absorb taste.
- Boiled Shirataki, by itself, doesn’t have much taste. But it absorbs the delicious taste of what it’s cooked with. Making braised pork? Add Shirataki (and some veggies!). Making a big pot of chicken soup? Add Shirataki to make it a full meal. Making a stir fry? Add Shirataki and now you made yourself a big bowl of low calorie dinner.
YUMMY SHIRATAKI DISHES
- Ramen. I open a package of frozen ramen from a Japanese store, and use the “ramen soup” that it comes with for the Shirataki “ramen.” This is how to make Low-Sodium Half-Carb Shirataki Ramen for 2 people using Ramen pack for one person (from Frozen Aisle of Asian grocery shops), and one small pack of Shirataki. I know, ramen isn’t the healthiest food in the world, but if you’re craving for it, why not have it in a way that’s satisfying and is better for you?
- Boil a pot of water. Separately, boil some water in the kettle.
- Stir-fry cabbage / mushroom/ thin sliced carrots (or other veggies), and some protein(I usually use boiled eggs I have stored up in the fridge, or a piece of fish cake from Japanese store), in canola oil or butter with a dash of low sodium soy sauce. Leave aside.
- Cook Shirataki noodles in boiling water for 2–3 minutes. Then pick them up with tongs and leave aside, leaving hot water in the pot. Then cook Ramen noodles in the same water as instruction says, typically a very short time (Cook shirataki first because it doesn’t get soggy even if you leave it out after you cook them).
- Split the small package of “ramen soup”between two bowls and add water from the kettle to taste. Don’t add too much water or it won’t taste quite right, as you are using one package of soup base for two people.
- Split the Shirataki and Ramen noodles between two bowls. (I usually eat two-thirds Shirataki, and one-third ramen noodles — and my son would get the opposite ratio, with two-thirds ramen.)
- Top your noodles with your veggies and protein. Add a piece of seaweed “nori” to make it look authentic (optional). Serve immediately.
- ENJOY while piping hot!
- Vietnamese Pho noodles (from the take out). After realizing that rice noodles raise my sugar through the roof, I sometimes ask for a take out of Pho. At home, I divide the soup and beef up in half, and I can serve the rice noodles to my son, while I have the rest of the soup with Shirataki noodles and added vegetables. Now, this is VERY low carb because all I eat are the shirataki noodles.
- Chow Mien & other stir fried noodles. Boil first, drain, and add it to your pan after you have been cooking veggies and protein for a few minutes.
- Braised dishes. Are you cooking pork roast, or other braised dishes? Add these guys to the dish and it will absorb all of the yummy liquid from the main dish without being soggy. Try to go light with the salt though, considering these noodles will absorb them all.
- Salads. chopped up and served with a bed of vegetables, it adds a whole lot of bulk to elevate your salad to a entree without the calories. Serve with ginger/soy/or other Asian dressings for best taste. I prefer to add roasted peanuts on the top!
- Spaghetti replacement. If you decide to serve Shirataki with your marinara sauce or pesto sauce, just be aware that Shirataki won’t taste exactly like your grandma’s pasta dish. I do think Shirataki tastes best when cooked in an Asian way, rather than a “replacement” of something, where you already have an expectation of a certain food.
WHERE TO BUY SHIRATAKI
- Any Japanese or Korean grocery store, or, natural food stores. Links to buying them online can be found on: hackmydiabetes.com.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST…
- If you are on insulin, or you are on particular insulin-secreting diabetes medications like Glipizide, glyburide, Glimeperide and eat Shirataki, WATCH OUT for low sugar! Since it works so so so well and it’s so low in carb, it may cause low sugar and you may need to balance it out by eating half-Shirataki, half-regular noodles (like the ramen recipe above). Or simply check your blood sugar after your meal to make sure it doesn’t go too low.
For more info on recipes, exercises, and mindset tips for pre-diabetes, diabetes, and gestational diabetes, check out: hackmydiabetes.com.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be a health advice, and is for informational purporses only. Please consult your health provider for individualized health advice.