The Shirataki Experiment
Seeing wet noodles in bags in the “toad-food” department of Ingle’s, I was suspicious. But today I found the same thing all over the tofu department of GreenLife, so I decided to try them.
They are Japanese, high-protein, low-carb noodles made of tofu and yam flour. They come in a bag of water. You drain them, rinse them and . . . they smell like fish taken out of the wrapper a day or two too late — ammonia! Eeeuuwww! Are theyspoiled? No, the date is far in the future. Maybe they weren’t refrigerated properly? Or maybe they are supposed to smell like this. If so, who eats them and why are they everywhere? I read the bag again, which refers to the “authentic aroma,” which is eliminated by cooking. Yeah, sure.
I decide to go to the Oracle. I google the word “shirataki” and get lots of info about “Miracle Noodles”! Then I google “shirataki ammonia,” and here it comes. Yes, this is how they smell when you open the package and no, after you cook them, they are not smelly. Still, I am skeptical and disgusted. I hate the smell and would definitely throw out fish that smell this way. However, I rinse the noodles intensively and boil them for exactly four minutes as instructed, sniffing suspiciously. I heat up spaghetti sauce, grate some cheese, and sniff some more. I read about their chewy texture being more suited to Asian noodle dishes than to Western sauces. Ding! OK, it’s time to drain them. Ammonia smell? No, but I am still apprehensive, food bigot that I am. No oysters either (well, one, once).
Then I taste them. Or actually, I don’t taste them; I taste the sauce and experience no pasta-like quality so much as a noodle-shaped, slightly chewy “suchness”. No ammonia at all (but I haven’t forgotten it, and I don’t think I can forgive them for it). I see why the online reviews say they’re not what you have in mind for spaghetti sauce but would do well in pad thai or the like.
It’s not quite green eggs and ham because there’s not much to like/dislike in the taste; it’s just a texture presence and the visual impression of noodleness. Are they filling, or is my appetite undone?
I congratulate myself on having the courage to try something new (and initially yucky) and am glad I did not try them for the first time with my husband who is very sensitive to unpleasant smells!
Somehow I don’t think you will see an article on shirataki in Cook’s Illustrated.
The Celtic Dame
Editors’ Note: Who is this Celtic Dame? We know only that she is of Druid descent and that she reveres nature, the sun, the moon, the stars and other natural elements such as the oak, certain other trees, hilltops, lakes and streams and especially plants. ( As you can see she has stretched beyond herself in this article !)