Dennis Patillo is a committed foodie and chef. He has spent a lifetime studying foods from around the world as well as regional cuisines.

Miracle noodles

Dennis Patillo’s pad thai using shirataki noodles.

Everyone has a food weakness — a food that you love so much and crave so completely that your desire for your perfect weight is sabotaged. Some have a weakness for sweets. Some have a weakness for breads. Others’ downfalls might be salty snacks or fast foods. My weakness is pasta. I have never found a pasta that I do not love.

There is no doubt that my love of pasta has contributed to my somewhat pillowy physique. For the umpteenth time, I am committed to losing the weight of a small farm animal. We are told that diets do not work. That is no doubt true. I have tried each and every one of them with only little and transient success. We all want to believe that somewhere there is that magic secret, other than starvation, that can help us reach our ideal weight.

If only there were a pasta that had no calories, no carbs and a ton of fiber — a pasta that did not send you on a guilt trip or raise your blood sugar.

There may be a pasta just like that, and it is clear that I am late to the game learning about it. Today, we are going to try shirataki noodles. I am going to walk you through my first experience with these “miracle” noodles and share my impressions.

While new to me, shirataki noodles have been around for a long time. Shirataki noodles are made from the konjac plant and in Japan they have been consumed for at least 1,500 years. In fact, foods made from konjac are part of the daily diet for most Japanese families for their digestive tract and health benefits.

A 4-ounce serving of shirataki noodles has a whopping 10 calories, zero net carbs and a boatload of fiber. Many on keto or other low-carb diets swear by these things.

These noodles are easy to find in every grocery store. They are found packed in water in the refrigerated section. There are also dried varieties, which are a little harder to find locally but are readily available on the internet. They all have catchy names like Pasta Zero and Miracle Noodles.

Preparation is straight forward.

Open the bag and drain the noodles in a colander. You may find the smell a little unpleasant, that is, unless you love the smell of a fish-cleaning table, in the hot sun, at Port O’Connor. Rinsing the noodles in cold running water for three to five minutes removes most, but not all of this odor.

Add the rinsed noodles to a pot of boiling water and cook for three to five minutes. This did the trick. Almost all of the odor at this point is gone. Put the noodles back in a colander to drain. Things look a little more promising, but I am not totally convinced yet.

The next step requires cooking the noodle over medium to medium-high heat in a dry nonstick skillet. The goal is to remove the water. The noodles will pop and squeak a little. I have never had my food squeak at me. Once the noodles have cooked for three to five minutes their texture has greatly improved. Although very white, they are taking on the texture of familiar noodles with virtually no odor.

I have researched a ton of recipes for shirataki noodles.

Not surprisingly there are many Asian recipes like lo mein, pad thai, ramen and yakisoba. There are also examples of substituting shirataki noodles for regular pasta in Italian dishes. They are included in noodle salads, soups, broths and curries.

For my maiden dish with these noodles, I made pad thai. I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted like pad thai, which is a good thing. These noodles are an ingredient that I can learn to like with a little experimentation.

You can buy shirataki noodles in a variety of shapes, like angel hair, spaghetti and fettuccine. Also available is a konjac rice marketed as Miracle Rice. I just have to try that.

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Dennis Patillo is a committed foodie and chef. He has spent a lifetime studying foods from around the world as well as regional cuisines. His passion is introducing people to ingredients and techniques that can be used in their home kitchen. He and his wife, Louise, own The PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar.

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