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What is Konnyaku?

Tonight, we are having a Japanese style hot pot for dinner. We like to load ours up with cabbage, mushrooms, tofu, daikon and konnyaku.

konnyaku

What is konnyaku, you ask? Konnyaku is the Japanese name for the konjac plant. The root of the konjac plant can be processed in to a rather bouncy food item. You may have seen noodles made of konjac labelled as Miracle Noodles or Shirataki. We buy shirataki from local asian markets as well as bricks of konjac gel that can be cut up in to cubes.

shirataki

Konnyaku products are notoriously smelly when you take them out the package. They are typically packaged in water and need to be rinsed. This is off-putting to a lot of people. It’s especially off-putting to people who buy shirataki noodles and think they are going to be a replacement for spaghetti.

Konnyaku works best in Asian recipes, especially soups where the broth is very flavourful. As I mentioned earlier, they are very “bouncy”. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t tried them, but it’s not the same type of bounce you find in tofu or jello. This is a firm bounce, just shy of rubber ball bounce.

I love the konnyaku cubes because you can turn them in to fancy little twists. The video below shows Chris (the resident Japanese chef in this house) twisting some up.

Prepping for #nabe. Stinky konnyaku twists. #japanesefood

A video posted by @jlukuku on

Are you wondering what konnyaku tastes like? It tastes like nothing! It’s almost a non-food (it hardly has any nutritional value aside from dietary fibre). You can expect it to pick up the flavours of the soup broth. The longer you can simmer it, the more flavour it will pick up.

One day, I’ll transcribe Chris’s hot pot recipe for you but for now you can try konnyaku in any Asian soup recipe that strikes your fancy.

 

6 Comments

  1. Hi Jasmine,
    Thanks for shedding some light on these “noodles”! I’ve just bought some for the first time in a local health food store and have been wondering how to use them ever since. The fact that they are gluten-free and almost zero carb makes them very appealing to me, however, I’m not sure if an almost non-food item can be considered healthy or not. Anyway, now that I’ve read your post some ideas started coming up. 🙂

    • Jasmine Lukuku says

      Hi Nóri, I hope you enjoy them! I can’t wait to see what you do with them.

  2. Danielle says

    Thanks for this post, it gave me the info I needed to be confident in cooking konnyaku. I have just made my first meal with konnyaku noodles. I picked up a pack in at the Japan Centre in Regent St, London a year ago but never used it as I didn’t know what to do with it. I’m now in Tokyo for a couple of years and see it everywhere so I made ramen with a pack of the same noodles. Very enjoyable. If anything, the bouncy texture makes it a little easier to pick up with chopsticks.
    In Norfolk, UK, where I’m from there is a company that makes noodles called Naked Noodles. They are made from the same thing, konjac and promoted as a healthy food. I have eaten them several times and enjoyed them. Morrisons sell them.

    • Jasmine Lukuku says

      That is great Danielle! Thanks for sharing your source, I’m sure some UK readers will find that helpful!

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