I love pasta. It really is that simple. Lasagna, manicotti, spaghetti, linguini, mac 'n' cheese... the whole lot of them... love them. Before going Paleo I was working on perfecting my recipes for all things pasta related. I had some pretty awesome lasagna and manicotti recipes to be honest. When I stopped eating wheat literally the first thing I did was start searching the web for pasta replacements... nothing quite matches the texture of wheat-based pastas unfortunately. I still eat 'pasta' these days but it comes in a different form. There is a bigger emphasis on hearty sauces in my case... lots of chunky tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, meat, fresh garlic and herbs, a little olive oil. I don't do a lot of cream sauces myself simply because I'm not a huge fan of cream sauces. The 'noodles' are the secondary part of the meal these days, a small portion of the total meal. I will be talking about two types of noodles this week... shiratake noodles (Miracle Noodles are a branded version of these) and zoodles, or zucchini noodles.
Miracles Noodles come in several forms- angel hair, fettuccine, ziti, rice, spinach (angel hair), black (angel hair) and garlic and herb (fettuccine). I only tried three of these for the review... eventually even I get a little tired of pasta. I tried: angel hair, spinach and fettuccine. There were some good things and some bad things for each of the styles but overall I thought they were an replacement but not something I am going to be using all the time in my cooking. I would like to try the ziti and garlic and herb varieties at some point and will review those if I do try them as I think the texture might change somewhat.
For all of these noodles there are some important tips you should know:
1. Rinse... rinse a lot. As soon as you open the pouch you will smell a fishy odor as shirataki are packed in brine. This isn't a huge deal in the scheme of things though as you simply dump them into a colander and run them under cold water for several minutes to remove the scent.
2. Cook them in the sauce. The good thing about these 'noodles' is that they absorb the flavors they are cooked in. I made a shrimp scampi with the angel hair... lots of lemon, parsley, garlic and butter. Guess what the noodles tasted of... lemon, parsley, garlic and butter. When I made a meaty tomato sauce they tasted of tomato and garlic. The key is to cook the noodles in some of the sauce so that they absorb the flavors. Toss a little of your sauce in the pan when you are heating the noodles for a better flavor.
This one was the first one I tried. I also tried an off brand of this variety that I found at the local Asian market near my house. I saw very little difference if between the off brand and the brand named angel hair shiratake. This was my favorite of the three simply because I am a texture person and there was less of a chewy consistency to these because they were thinner. I keep a pouch of these in my pantry just in case I get a craving for pasta so that I can grab some of my homemade sauce out of the freezer to cook up with these and be done in a few minutes with little planning.
I saw very little difference between the normal angel hair and the spinach variety of angel hair shirataki. There may have been a slight difference in the chew but overall they were still chewier than a wheat pasta so I tended to cut the pasta in my sauce rather than twirl the pasta... again, huge texture person and my focus on pasta nights is now the sauce with a little bit of 'pasta' on the side.
These were my least favorite... they are a lot chewier than the angel hair variety since they are thicker. I really did not enjoy the chew as it reminded me of sea food... like a calamari texture almost. My ex enjoyed these as part of a shrimp scampi dish though so it is all about the sauce. If you are a big texture person like me though I would steer clear of these thicker versions of the shirataki noodles.
I do need to warn you to read the labels on shirataki you may purchase though (anything you purchase in a package actually) as some contain soy or other ingredients you may not want to eat now that '0-calorie' noodles have been around for a while. I would imagine the additions help the texture but I do not want those things in my body- especially the soy- so I have not tried them.