What Are Shirataki Noodles?

There’s no stranger-looking noodle than the shirataki. Sure, the Italians come up with some crazy pasta shapes, but side by side they all look like variations on the same theme. And sometimes they are made with zucchini or beets, resulting in vibrant greens and reds. But at the end of the day, the taste is pretty much the same. The shirataki noodle is a horse of a different color. It’s not even a horse; it’s a tapir or some other ungulate. What are shirataki noodles? Let’s clear things up. 

What are shirataki noodles?

Native to Japan, the shirataki noodle is a long, translucent noodle that has a similar shape to spaghetti. However, it is nearly colorless and has a texture more like gelatin. The word shirataki translates to “white waterfall,” which is apropos to its unique appearance. They are used in a variety of Japanese dishes like gyudon and sukiyaki. 

Shirataki noodles are not only unique for their appearance, but also for their nutritional value. Unlike other noodles, they are completely free of wheat, gluten, or eggs. This makes them a great lunch idea for gluten-free folks and vegans. And they are very high in dietary fiber, which makes them a good digestion aid.

They are also practically calorie free. How is this so?!

What are shirataki noodles made of?

The secret to the shirataki noodle is the konjac plant. Native to East Asia, this plant has a large, edible bulb—also called a corm—that is similar to a lot of other root vegetables. The corm is turned into a flour and mixed with water to create the noodle.

Here’s the twist: Shirataki noodles are 97% water and only 3% konjac flour. Occasionally, a seaweed called hijiki is added to provide some color and flavor, but that’s it. This accounts for their low calorie content and their gelatinous structure.

What do shirataki noodles taste like?

On their own, shirataki noodles taste of nothing. They’re more used for their texture than their taste. The noodles are packaged in water, which can give them an unusual odor, but that disappears when they are cooked.  

How do you cook shirataki noodles?

When you open a package of shirataki noodles, the first step is to rinse them. This will rid them of that stinky water. After rinsing, toss them in a dry pan and let them cook for a few minutes. This will further dry them out and firm up their texture. From there, you can eat them as is, but they are much better infused with other flavors. Toss them in a stir-fry, use them in place of angel hair in pasta recipes, toss them with peanut sauce, or add them to soups.

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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