I first heard about tofu shirataki noodles on one of the foodie website I visit often, LTH Forum. It was one of those threads that was interesting to read but pretty much forgot about. That is until Friday when I stopped into Whole Foods and the noodles happened to catch my eye as I made my way from the fish counter to the yogurt area. Sitting on the bottom shelf with the other refrigerated soy products in plastic bags filled with water, I suddenly remembered reading about these “shaped noodle substitutes,” which came in three thicknesses (spaghetti, angel hair and fettuccine).
I checked out the package and saw that the noodles were healthy, and I mean really healthy. Each eight-ounce package was two servings and were vegan, gluten-free and contained no sugar or cholesterol. Additionally, each serving had just 20 calories, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 0.5 gram of fat and 1 gram of protein. Not bad, right? So long as the noodles would be as filling as traditional noodles made from flour and eggs and taste just as good.
Needless to say, I couldn’t resist and bought a package of spaghetti, figuring it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. But something about using these noodles in place of traditional egg pasta didn’t seem right, such as spaghetti with marinara sauce. So instead, thinking about how tofu traditionally picks up whatever flavors it’s mixed with, I decided to use them as I would udon or ramen – in an Asian-inspired preparation.
And you know what? It was actually pretty good. I followed the advice from an LTH poster who said to rinse well, which was immediately apparent as soon as I opened the package and got a wiff of the noodles’ strong “aroma.” Not to mention it was quick and easy, and much better than the $0.59 ramen noodles I made last week when I was craving Asian noodles. There’s no exact recipe for this as you should season to taste, but here’s what I did:
Tofu Shirataki Spaghetti with Shrimp, Mushrooms & Spinach
1 8-ounce bag rinsed tofu shirataki noodles, rinsed well
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
10 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 mushrooms (any variety should work), stemmed and sliced thin
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon mirin or sweet sake
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup baby spinach
1 teaspoon corn starch*
1 teaspoon water
1 scallion, green part only, sliced thin
Set a large pot of water over high heat and bring it to a boil. While waiting for the water to come up, pour the sesame oil into a large saute pan set over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink on both sides but not entirely cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside; keep the oil in the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the mushrooms. Cook until tender, about four minutes, then deglaze with the chicken stock, mirin and soy sauce. Return the shrimp to the pan and bring the liquid to a simmer. In a small bowl mix together the corn starch and water, then add it to the simmering broth. Stir in the spinach and reduce the heat to low.
Now cook the noodles in the boiling water for two minutes (I kept the noodles in the sieve as I was concerned about over-cooking them), then drain well and mix with the other ingredients. Season to taste with salt, pepper and/or additional soy sauce or mirin. Divide between two bowls and garnish with the scallion.
*Note: I wasn’t going for a soupy noodle dish, simply one with a good amount of “brothy sauce.” If you want, you can make it a soup by adding more chicken stock and seasoning to taste with the soy sauce and mirin, and omit the cornstarch.