Superfoods are nutrient powerhouses; they boast numerous health benefits and are able to reduce the risk of chronic disease, prolong life and help those who eat them to be thinner and healthier (or so it’s claimed).
Foods that have been stamped with the superfood seal of approval include: kale, acai, blueberries, salmon, cacao, goji berries and chia seeds. I myself am a lover of MOST things superfood. However, I did have to decline some black garlic that my boyfriend brought home from work. It was given to him as a gift from a Chinese co-worker, as it is highly praised as a superfood in parts of Asia, where they eat it whole. It’s known to balance the intestinal flora and thus strengthen the immune system, yet my response was ‘thanks but no thanks’, to the offer of eating it whole.
A few times a year, a new superfood is celebrated and welcomed into health enthusiasts daily diet, this time it’s a Japanese one, which unlike acai, cacao powder and chia seeds, doesn’t cost a small fortune and is readily available to those living in Japan. It’s been labeled the ‘miracle noodle’ in the West and although new to me, and perhaps to other Westerners in Japan, it’s actually been celebrated for a couple of years of so in America as the ‘dream food’.
Think of spaghetti but without the carbs and unwanted calories and there you’ll find shirataki noodles. Although I’m not a believer in a no carb diet, a low carb one will definitely aid in weight loss, therefore I opt for larger portions of carbs for breakfast and lunch and then reduce the portion at night, so a bowl of shirataki noodles is the perfect way to end your day with a healthy, fulfilling meal.
You may have tried shirataki noodles before, but have you ever tried them as a substitute for pasta, mixing them with Western as opposed to Japanese ingredients? Similarly to my soba article, where I spoke about the benefits of enjoying your best-loved spaghetti dish minus the calories, here you can do the same.
Surprisingly, they go very well with the old favourite Bolognese, even with an ample serving of cheese on top. However, there is of course an abundance of Japanese ways to eat them and if you’re watching your wallet as well as your waistline, then the Japanese recipes are preferable.
Shirataki noodles come packaged in liquid, which upon opening will hit you with a rather unpleasant odor, to get rid of the smell I’d suggest rinsing them in cold water.
Here’s a simple dish to try at home:
- 1 carrot, sliced into the shape of matchsticks
- 1 courgette
- a handful of edamame beans
- 1 packet of shirataki
- 2 tbsp of dashi dissolved in 250ml of water
- ¼ cup of soy sauce
- 40ml of mirin
- ¾ tbsp of sake
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- seasame seeds to garnish
If you use edamame from the stalk here’s how I prepare them for the dish:
Separate the pods from the stalks. Place bean pods in a large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt, rub vigorously, and let stand for 15 minutes. Bring a pan of well-salted water to a boil, add the beans and boil over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Then remove the beans from the pod.
– First, start with making the sauce by combing the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
– Take it off the heat and set aside.
– Heat some oil in a wok, once it starts to smoke add the carrot and stir-fry for a minute, then add the courgette and stir-fry for another minute.
– Remove the veg, then add the sauce and bring to the boil, after that add the noodles. Cook the noodles in the sauce until the noodles have absorbed all the sauce.
– Then mix the veg and edamame with the noodles and stir through.
– Serve and garnish with sesame seeds.