When browsing the Holland and Barrett website to take advantage of their 1p sale recently, I came across packets of shirataki noodles. Although they weren’t in the 1p sale, I was intrigued, and did a bit of reading around. The reason for my intrigue? They claim to be calorie-free yet filling, and so the perfect diet food. While not currently dieting, I’m always looking for low-calorie fillers that also taste nice, so thought I would give a packet of these a whirl.
But what are shirataki noodles exactly? The love child of rice noodles and angel hair pasta, they’re translucent noodles made from yams. This means they consist entirely of fibre and water, and so have virtually no flavour of their own. They have a long shelf life (up to one year), although tofu-based versions are also now becoming popular, which have a shorter shelf life and need to be refrigerated.
Today I took out my packet and awaited the moment of truth as I followed the cooking instructions, which stated that rinsing under warm water and then boiling for 4 minutes was required. Very easy – no issues here. However, from a little more reading around, I have also discovered that for a more pasta-like consistency, it’s also possible to dry-fry the noodles in a wok. Once you have cooked the noodles, you then serve them with your sauce of choice. As mentioned above, the lack of flavour in the noodles themselves mean they’ll only taste as good as the sauce you serve them with. I opted for leftover pasta sauce (tomato and basil, if you’re interested) with extra sweet chilli sauce.
Flavour, therefore, was not a problem. However, the texture may put some people off: the noodles don’t stick in your throat or mouth, but thanks to their stiffer and more elastic texture, do take longer to chew and do not always feel pleasant in the mouth.
The noodles do, however, deliver on their ultimate promise, which is to make you feel fuller for longer. Whether they would allow you to lose weight long-term, though, depends on how often you would be willing to consume them (or the shirataki pasta, which is also available), and nobody likes monotony in their diet: even if I were to vary the sauces you used, I’m still not sure that I’d want to eat noodles (or pasta, or even a mixture of the two) every single day. Only time will tell if this type of ‘diet noodle’ will continue as a popular trend, or fade into obscurity.