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Shirataki Noodles

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Shirataki noodles are a traditional Japanese noodle or noodle substitute that you can find in most health food sections of your local grocery store. They are perfect for pasta cravings, and are being advertized by fitness experts as a "wonder noodle" or "noodle substitute" for low-carb dieters.

Originally only made from the konjac plant (often called the elephant yam or an array of other names), most Shirataki noodes in American markets are now made with tofu, which adds a bit of opacity and a few calories (the yam-only noodles are zero calories). In most cases, the noodles weigh in at a whopping 40 calories for the entire bag, which is enough for a generous serving for one or a modest serving to share.

Shirataki noodles come with a slightly pungent, fishy odor in their packaging; it's billed as an acquired taste but can be a real turn-off for some people. Package recommendations state to boil the noodles or let them soak for a few minutes after rinsing to remove this odor. We find that once rinsed, if you boil the noodles for about three minutes in a broth, the fishy odor will be gone and the noodles will soak up some of the broth's flavor and saltiness (the noodles are near flavorlessbut will take on the flavor of your seasoning).

When the noodles are cooked, they have a slightly rubbery texture but are still satisfying. We tried them out with a simple tomato sauce and chicken breasts, and it was a decent substitute, nearly undetectable to an oblivious family. Although they are not a permanent replacement to some tasty semolina noodles, they work fine for now.

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