Mar 2, 2019
Some time while I was living in Japan, the ketogenic (keto) diet really took off abroad. I didn't find out about the health craze until recently, when I was looking at ways to lose some weight. Though there have always been famous iterations of it, such as the Atkins Diet, I wasn't really interested in it until recently.
The basic idea of the diet is that you cut out foods with a lot of carbs, and eat a lot of high-fat foods instead. In theory, it has the body burning calories from fat, rather than fat from carbs. Now, I have probably oversimplified the diet, as well as the science behind it, but the basic premise is this: carbs are off limits.
Because I don't eat much meat in the first place and I live mainly off of carbs, this would be a challenge for me even living back in the States. In Japan, the challenge is even harder. Not only am I surrounded by delicious sweets and baked goods, but I've grown to need some kind of starch (mostly rice, but also pasta and bread) with every meal.
Initially, I tried just cutting them all out. But, it made for some really bland meals and I was quickly running out of ideas for recipes. I mean, you can only eat salad so many different ways before getting discouraged.
I found these noodles at my local grocery store one day. I was already familiar with konnyaku noodles from eating nabe, but the ones I knew about were thin, like angel hair pasta. I was going to use those thin noodles as substitutes until I found out that thicker "udon" konnyaku noodles existed.
They have no calories and no carbs, but are really filling. Actually, looking into it later, some health blogs urge you to be careful when eating these, because they can fill you up with nothing essentially, so you need to be sure you're getting enough nutrients as well.
Here they are right out of the bag. They look pretty thick and have a good and chewy consistency. With these, I was planning on adding them to my soup curry to get extra substance.
The instructions on how to use them are pretty easy. In the bag, they're suspended in liquid. You'll need to strain them out and rinse them with water well. The main thing about konnyaku is the smell. They have a very distinct smell that can be very familiar to some people. Be sure to keep rinsing them until the smell is gone.
You don't need to cook them afterward. You can just use the noodles as is, substituting them for whatever you see fit. If you rinse them well, they shouldn't have any taste and can absorb the flavors of whatever dish you're cooking. The texture takes some time getting used to, though, but it's not too foreign.
I recommend these noodles to anyone looking to cut a few calories or anyone who's interested in trying keto. The noodles are reasonably priced at about 120 yen a package, and they come with a lot in a package! You should look for it the next time you're at the store, and check out what other konnyaku varieties they have. I'm going to try the konnyaku rice next time.
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