I wonder how I got through my school years. Recent conversation with kid #2 surprised me as she talked about how left out she felt when going to camp and she didn’t know who to hang out with. And this is the kid who loves camps. But given that kid #2’s personality, I shouldn’t have been surprised as we are both intrinsically introverts. I remember my awkward growing up years not feeling part of any group and trying to convince myself that I was someone who could stand out. Oddly the search for significance led to a refuge in books…for some strange reason the appeal of being erudite (or appearing so) got me through the teenage years. So while in secondary school, I devoured books, aided by the National Library and the very well-stocked Raffles Girls’ Secondary School library. I swallowed the classics and discovered many treasures. I think I pretty much covered everything, from Dickens to Dostoyevsky. The only book I never had the courage to tackle was War and Peace, which was too intimidating by sheer size even to start.
Anyway as I look at kid #2 today, my heart aches a little because I remember the quest to stand out and to be significant. The advantage of being in my 40s is that I am less hung up about what people think of me and also at some point in time, I had to accept that in the big scheme of things it wasn’t all about me! And the need to stand out in the crowd is not longer an imperative. Plus now of course, I’ve been surrounded by friends who have stood the test of time and have less illusions about me than I do.
Shirataki noodles are a bit like that…bland and struggling to stand out. The closest thing Shirataki noodles resembles is tang hoon, or Chinese vermicelli or cellophane noodles which is made usually from mung beans or potato starch. Shirataki is made from konjac yam and the name Shirataki means “white waterfall” describing the translucent whitish appearance of the noodles. The brilliant thing about Shirataki noodles is that they are absolutely low carb (maximum 4 carbs per serving) and is the one reason why Asians can survive low carb despite our usual carb-laden noodle dishes. However, Shirataki noodles have zero intrinsic flavour and a rather bouncy chewy texture. And the trick of using these noodles is to load flavour onto the noodles.
When I first started using Shirataki noodles I made the mistake of thinking of them as a kind of spaghetti substitute. Which is conceptually all wrong. Shirataki noodles are intrinsically a very Asian kind of noodle and not a pasta. My first mistake was to make it with a white cream carbonara-like sauce. It was bland upon bland. It is great however for making asian dishes like Korean jap chae (which I will post one day when I have nicer pictures). My favourite quick noodle is to use a combination of soy sauce and sesame sauce and stir fry the noodles with a little garlic and spring onions. Or it would do well in a very flavourful soup like the tonkotsu ramen broth that I posted about recently.
In this single-serve breakfast stir-fry, I used Tom Yum as the stand out flavour. I confess I didn’t make the Tom Yum paste from scratch since I did have ready-made paste from my last trip to Bangkok. It was…interesting. A little astringent but quite a good foil to the salty and slightly fatty smoked duck breast I paired it with. I was actually planning on going with the traditional prawns one expects with Tom Yum but the duck breast was the only thing thawed and ready in the fridge that morning. Flavour-wise I would say that these Tom Yum noodles made for a bright and zingy start of the day!
Tom Yum Shirataki Noodles
- 1 packet of Shirataki noodles
- 2 sprigs of spring onions, the white parts chopped finely and green parts cut into 2 cm lengths
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 50g smoked duck breast, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 tbsp tom yum paste
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp fried shallots (optional)
- Dry fry the drained and washed Shirataki noodles on a non stick pan. When dry and slightly more opaque in colour, remove from heat and set aside.
- Heat up the vegetable oil in a skillet.
- Fry the garlic and white part of the spring onions for about 1-2 minutes till fragrant.
- Add in the smoked duck breast and tom yum paste and sauté for another minute.
- Add in the Shirataki noodles and the soy sauce and mix well. Add in the green part of the spring onions and lightly stir fry for another minute.
- Serve hot with some fried shallots on top.