Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I ponder frequently my love of the miraculous practically calorie- and carb-free shirataki noodles. The yam version is especially awesome. The only drawback is how long it takes and how much water is wasted washing away the "authentic aroma" before consuming them. It is probably the squeamish American in me, but the odor is best described as dead fishies. A girl can overlook a lot of unpleasantries to get to something that, after much care and attention, becomes delicious and diet friendly.

Although ours is an urban location, working on a farm campus often means limited lunch options. Bringing meals from home is pretty standard around here, but occasionally we seek something convenient that doesn't include last night's leftovers. Our student center recently began selling an awesome assortment of Asian foodstuffs. Just yesterday we discovered instant shirataki hanging out in the salad case!

I asked the student cashiers if anyone else had tried the instant noodles yet. No one had. We all wondered, would the instant noodles have an altered authentic aroma? Would they smell fresh? Would they require no rinsing, no soaking, no boiling, no drying? I offered to take one for the team, purchased the Szechuan flavor (spicy, serve cold) option, and promised to report back on my experience.

The package opens like a gift. It contains a folded informational insert in both English and Chinese, two tiny bags of liquid spice, a folded fork (!), and a baggy of noodles. The plastic box doubles as a bowl. Instructions advise: Take out of refrigerator, open lid, tear open plastic bag around 1 cm, pour away purified water, empty noodles into container, add soup base, stir well and serve. As I drained the noodles, my curious coworkers (also shirataki enthusiasts) asked, "Well? Any smell?" I gagged my response.

Conclusion: instant shirataki noodles are a great option for someone with access to a strainer, lots of water for rinsing and boiling, and more than half an hour for the process. Serve COLD flavors include Szechuan, Vinegar, and Wasabu (is this Chinese for wasabi?). Serve HOT flavors include Abalone and Chicken. I still cannot say whether I like the Szechuan flavor, as the noodles are still soaking away their odor.

Post Lunch Update: I sit with the noodles before me. The plastic container they came in began leaking as the noodles soaked and so I was forced to transfer them to a cup. After an hour and a half of soaking the scent away, I drained then completely dried the noodles with paper towels. Since stirring in the soy sauce seasoning and hot oil I've taken one bite, but without the boiling method these noodles are a little too chewy to enjoy. I'll let them swim in the seasoning for a while longer, and maybe add some peanuts. The experiment continues. And now I am hungry. 

On a happy note, I've burned more calories preparing my lunch than the lunch actually contains (12 calories, 6 mg sodium, 6  g carbs, 5 g fiber, and 1 g sugar). Is it any wonder these things are addictive?

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