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