Konjac noodles may look like any typical plate of noodles, but once you twirl your fork into them and take a bite, you’ll realize they’re something else entirely. Instead of being made from the usual rice or wheat flour, konjac noodles are actually made from the starchy roots of the konjac plant.
These noodles contain 97% water and just 3% plant starch, they’re famously low in calories, and because they’re high in glucomannan – a type of soluble fibrous substance with various health benefits – they’re a popular choice for keto diets too.
Konjac noodles have been eaten and enjoyed by the Japanese for years and are closest to rice vermicelli or rice noodles in their whitish, slightly translucent appearance. They have a rather distinct texture: it’s somewhat bouncy and rubbery, with a light and chewy density when bitten into.
They don’t have much of a flavor when eaten on their own, aside from a vaguely salty taste, but they make up for that by being extremely filling. Konjac noodles also have the benefit of acting as a blank slate for deep and rich flavored dishes like curries and stir fries, and complementing sharp tasting ingredients like ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil.
What are Konjac Noodles?
You may have heard of konjac noodles by another name – perhaps shirataki noodles, devil’s tongue noodles or yam noodles. In fact, these seemingly disparate names are all connected by the noodle’s origin, the konjac plant, which grows throughout the subtropical to tropical regions of Asia. This yam-like root vegetable looks like an oddly shaped potato and is best known for its ‘corm’, an edible tuber-like part of the stem that grows underground.
After it’s been dug up and dried out, the dry Konjac corm is ground down to make flour or powder. Once it’s mixed with still water and lime water, the dough can be sliced into noodles. You’ll also see Konjac appearing on shelves as ‘yam cake’ – a block of the powder mixed with water – or konjac jelly, often used to make lychee cups.
Cooking with Shirataki Noodles
As you might expect with noodles made predominantly from starch, a konjac noodle has the ability to get rather gloopy when cooked, and there are a few issues that people face when eating them. First is the slippery, gelatinous texture, and second is the smell, which can be a little fishy and pungent thanks to the calcium hydroxide that’s used as a coagulant agent in manufacturing.
If you’re not a fan of the smell or texture though, you’re in luck — there’s significant improvement to be had with just a few different cooking and preparation techniques.
Note: the below steps are about removing as much liquid as possible from the noodles themselves. The less water that remains in the noodles, the better texture they’ll have when eaten!
How to Prepare Konjac Noodles
- The first and most important step is to rinse your Konjac noodles really well, preferably in a colander, to get rid of the smell.
- Fill a pan with water and boil the noodles on high for 2-3 minutes. You can add a dash of vinegar here too, which will help reduce the sliminess.
- Next, drain the noodles and fry them in a hot, dry pan without any oil for 7-10 minutes. When they’re squeaky, they’ll have lost their rubbery texture.
Now your noodles are sufficiently prepped, you can add them to any number of hot or cold meals to constitute a starch component: hotpots, curries, stews, stir fries, and anything with a strong flavored sauce. Konjac noodles can also be used as a great low-carb substitute for Italian pasta. Though it won’t taste quite the same, the texture and appearance definitely works!
In terms of storage, konjac noodles are shelf stable, so it’s perfectly fine to keep them in the cupboard for months as long as they’re in the original packaging. Once the bag is opened, submerge any unprepared noodles in an airtight container of water and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, changing the water every few days. Konjac noodles can’t be frozen though: due to the high water content of konjac flour, the noodles will disintegrate once thawed.
If you’re wondering where to buy konjac noodles, check out health food stores or your closest Asian market. You can also explore the dry noodles available on Bokksu’s virtual shelves too – and try anything else that takes your fancy at Bokksu’s online Asian grocery store.