This summer has been a summer of indulgent eating. New York City just has so many ridiculously delicious offerings, it's very difficult to rein myself in.
So, in an effort to make up for some small fraction of recent diet of eating like a recently released convict, I decided to make one of my favorite Korean dishes, but without any guilt. Jjajangmyeon is a black bean sauce noodle that is salty and savory. It's usually made with pork belly and hand-pulled, hand-cut noodles. Sure, if you can afford the calories, go get the real thing.
I posted the photo to Instagram, assuming my friends would be appalled at my lack of high-fat, high sugar food porn. But lo and behold, I got a bunch of requests for the recipe. So, if you want to go with the low-calorie version, without the pork belly or the real flour noodles, this is kind of an amazing alternative. It's actually delicious and even my husband, who never eats anything without meat, loves them.
I cook with shirataki relatively often. Learned about it from David Bouley a few years ago when he was testing out ingredients for a tasting menu. I could explain it, but Wikipedia does a pretty good job, so I'll let them do it:
Shirataki are thin, translucent, gelatinous traditional Japanese noodlesmade from the konjac yam (devil's tongue yam or elephant yam). The word "shirataki" means "white waterfall", describing the appearance of these noodles. Largely composed of water and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber, they are very low in carbohydrates and calories, and have little flavor of their own.
I must warn you about a couple things. When you open up the package, (the noodles are packed in liquid), there will be an aroma. It's the natural smell of the noodles. So, I usually rinse and then boil them once in water. But, if you are very sensitive to odor, this may not be the right noodle for you. Also, if they dry out, they pretty much wither into nothing, so you want to sauce-y sauce, and you don't want to wait too long to eat them. Finally, these do not have the texture of flour noodles. They are springy and chewy. So, keep all this in mind.
When I cook with shirataki, I let it sit in the sauce for 20 minutes before eating. The noodles manage to soak up everything in some sort of delicious osmosis reaction. I strongly suggest doing this so that you can fully enjoy your super low calorie meal.
As to where to buy the noodles, they sell them at Whole Foods. I buy mine on Amazon in bulk. I prefer the House Foods tofu spaghetti shirataki because they are the most similar to real noodles. I've also used Miracle Noodle and Better than Pasta, so you may need to try a few to see what you like best. Just avoid kelp noodles masquerading as shirataki, because they are rubbery and you will not be able to cook with the in he same way.
Black bean sauce is kind of the perfect sauce, because they pack flavor, and half the time, i order this dish for the sauce.
1 package of shirataki noodles
½ package of soft tofu, drained
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of zucchini, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 cup of red and yellow bell peppers
1 onion, chopped into chunks
¼ cup of black bean paste
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
½ a cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks for garnish
scallions, cut thinly for garnish
Add onion to pan and stir fry on medium heat until fragrant.
Add tofu, celery, peppers, and zucchini and keep stirring for about 5 minutes.
Clear a space in the center of the pan by pushing the ingredients to the edges.
Add add ¼ cup of black bean paste and stir it with a wooden spoon for 1 minute to fry it. Then mix everything in the pan and keep stirring.
Add 1 cup of water to the pan and let it cook with the lid closed for about 10 minutes.
Take off the lid and finish cooking for another 5 minutes on low, or until sauce is not too watery.
Rinse and drain shirataki noodles. Add to sauce, mix in the sesame oil and let sit for 15-20 minutes so the noodles can soak up the flavor.
Top with cucumbers and scallions.