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In Praise of the White Waterfall

January 11, 2011

If you’ve ever counted calories or done Weight Watchers or followed a low-carb diet you know that as an adult, you can’t eat noodles in quantity and still fit into the pants that you already own. You can’t eat a lot of rice, either, but rice was never all that fun to eat in the first place. If you do eat rice, you can at least eat brown rice, which is not really any worse tasting than regular rice, plus it has the added benefit of making you feel good about yourself, whereas the delta between good pasta and whole wheat pasta is huge and uncrossable.

In your calorie-counting quests, you may have encountered a desperate zealot or two, bubbling over with advice. If you met the one I am thinking of, she might have told you that next time you are craving pasta, you should just get some thin green beans, and boil them, and put tomato sauce on them. Then eat them, and voila! You are not getting any fatter than you already are!

She forgot to mention the need to unfocus your eyes and unplug your memory so that you can mistake the cellulose texture for the good chewy starchy texture of pasta. I haven’t tried the beans scenario, but it seems pretty bad. I mean, I like green beans just fine, but my pinkish and oblong fingers seem closer to noodles than green beans with tomato sauce.

Enter the white waterfall. That’s what “shirataki” means. Have you had shirataki noodles? They are white gelatinous noodles that apparently reminded someone, somewhere in Japan, of a white waterfall.

They are high-fiber noodles without carbohydrates. A whole bag has very few calories. The kind I buy are made from tofu, and so they have protein. Shirataki noodles are the anti-noodle: the miracle unnoodle, who has sidestepped all of the traditional noodle problems.

If you’ve lived on earth for more than 20 years, you know that if you manage to sidestep normal problems, weird ones will crop up in their place. Shiratakis are no different. When you snip open the bag, you will notice that they stink. I’m sorry, but even the packager acknowledges it. They talk about rinsing and parboiling to dispel the “authentic odor.”

They smell pretty authentic, all right.

But who cares? You can get around the odor to eat noodles without carbs. I know you can.

Shirataki noodles may require a bit of unusual management, ie, draining, rinsing, parboiling, drying in a pan, and then cooking. However, you’re allowed to eat noodles. I wouldn’t recommend having them with pasta sauce, though I haven’t tried it, actually, and I should certainly do that and report back before I dissuade you here. I do *highly* recommend them with Asian flavors.

Today for lunch, I beat one egg and cooked it flat in a pan, then removed it and sliced it. To the pan I added onion, garlic, ginger, broccoli, and mushrooms.

I’d rinsed and drained the noodles, and boiled them for 2 minutes. I’d drained them, then dried them in a nonstick pan over low heat, just to help them dry a bit.

I tossed the noodles in with the vegetables and added a sauce I’d stirred together from soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, and sugar. I added the strips of egg.

The noodles have a slightly unusual texture, but I like it quite a bit.

A meal fit for a king! A svelte and worldly king.

PS My child hated them. He ate one frond of broccoli and sniffed one noodle and dismissed it completely. It still smelled bit too authentic for him, I suppose, but you should try them.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2011 5:03 pm

    The bit about the green beans really made me laugh. While I was on a no-grains diet (allergy testing) I found myself desperately seeking vehicles for peanut butter; I settled on cucumber slices, which I happened to have in plenty at the time.

    Cucumbers are my new bread, I’d say. But it did not catch on.

    • January 12, 2011 8:56 pm

      did it not catch on with your community, or even with you? spoons that also have chocolate or jam or marshmallow in them are a great vehicle for pb, i find. i will try your trick though! sounds healthier.

  2. frankly manny permalink
    January 11, 2011 10:35 pm

    Those sound awful, Meredith. I mean, maybe not the taste of them. I can’t speak to the taste of them. But the process of them? Not today, not tomorrow.

    Not today. Not tomorrow.

    • January 11, 2011 10:38 pm

      The noodles are good. Don’t you mean “not today, not ever?” If you are quoting yourself — sigh — that is what you mean.

  3. January 12, 2011 1:00 pm

    I will have to try them, because I have not been able to cross the delta between white and whole wheat pasta. I keep falling in and swimming back to the white pasta side.

  4. January 12, 2011 1:16 pm

    Thank you for this post, cause I have been wondering if you kept eating them after the first time. I did not keep eating them after the first time, but maybe I will start again.
    I do sometimes eat pasta sauce on broccoli instead of noodles but that is not because I don’t love noodles. It’s because I don’t love broccoli.

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