The things we do for noodles. There is something primal about the need for rice and noodles for an Asian and going low carb is probably unimaginable for many Chinese because of this. Hubs sees a lot of older diabetics in his clinic and they are usually appalled that he would suggest cutting back on rice and noodles and bread because they felt that they would not have the energy to function. 3 years ago when I started low-carbing I was actually really surprised that the switch of diets resulted in me having more sustained energy and alertness. So the truth is that we really need very little carb to function. On the recent trip to NZ I was watching a documentary “That Sugar Film” where this guy (Damon Gameau) decided to document his experience of eating the recommended sugar allowance (Australian guidelines of not more than 40 spoons a day) but the twist was that he ate only what was perceived to be healthy, such as cereals, smoothies, muesli bars and low fat yoghurt. He did this for 60 days but ended up with fatty liver, an increased waistline of 10 cm as well as a host of mood problems. Now that is the worst form of method acting. Anyway that documentary really reinforced my desire to stick to a low carb diet. Now if only I could convince kid#2 to cut the carbs…she does love her milo and bread!
But in all honesty, I do miss noodles. And I am really happy to have discovered shirataki noodles fairly early on, which are a bit like Chinese Tang Hoon and therefore can be used in a lot of Chinese noodle dishes. The tricky part is pasta and I have always been looking for a decent pasta substitute that can hold up to all kinds of sauces. I did buy some low carb pastas in the past, and in fact recently I bullied 2 friends into cart back a carton of all kind of low carb pastas ranging from edamame beans pasta to kelp pasta from the US. These are pretty expensive and the international shipping even more so, and truth to tell, some of the taste and texture of the pastas is more like cardboard. Not very appetizing.
I had read a lot of zucchini noodles or zoodles in the past in low carb forums. I have always been a little skeptical about how they would taste – after all it is a vegetable and nothing like what a pasta would taste like. So some months ago I ordered a super cheap slicer from Qoo10 (for some reason it has been the only item I have successfully ordered from this online shop). Within the first time I used it, the slicer broke (well it did cost $8) and it also sliced the zucchini into very fine strands which, after cooking kind of melted into a smooshy mush. Not a great experience. And I wasn’t quite convinced I wanted to go down this road since I already had shirataki noodles as a decent noodle substitute.
Anyway during the pre-Christmas rush of buying presents, kid#2 and I were in Spotlight and came across a spiralizer that wasn’t too expensive. I didn’t buy it then but finally took the plunge this week (I always hesitate before buying another piece of kitchen equipment as my cupboards are bursting at the seams). So armed with fat zucchinis I tried out the spiralizer and was pleasantly surprised at the results. So firstly the slicer had different slicing inserts and I chose the one with larger holes that allowed the zucchini to be sliced in larger spirals. This helped later in the cooking as it did better with the quick stir fry and didn’t become a puddle of veg like the last time. It was quite easy to use unlike the handheld spiralizer I had tried before. So I am pretty gratified that this new buy worked out well and I didn’t waste my money. (Did I ever mention that the one kitchen device I really covet is a deli meat slicer? I’m still looking for a deli meat slicer that doesn’t occupy too much of a footprint in terms of space. 😄)
So what do zoodles taste like? Obviously they don’t taste anything like noodles or pasta, but the zoodles somehow tasted fresh and robust with the meat sauce. It did give the experience of twirling the vegetable around the fork, and as expected it was the sauce that made the dish shine but at least the zoodles made a tasty and healthy base for it. It was like eating a whole different kind of dish but not in a bad way. I’m definitely jumping on the spiralizer bandwagon!
The “whatever is in the fridge” bolognese sauce and zoodles
- 500g lamb or beef mince
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 can of button mushrooms, diced
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 medium sized zucchini, spiralized
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Heat up the olive oil in a pot over medium to high heat. Sauté the onions and carrots till the onions are slightly translucent and fragrant.
- Add the meat mince and brown the meat.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and wine and continue to sauté and let the wine cook off for about 5 minutes
- Add the diced tomatoes from the can, including all the juices, the tomato paste, salt, pepper, dried oregano, soy sauce and fish sauce. Simmer for another 20 minutes till the carrots are tender, stirring intermittently. Take off the heat and set aside.
- In a skillet, heat up the olive oil over medium to high heat. Sauté the garlic till slightly browned.
- Add the zucchini spirals and the salt and pepper and stir fry for another 3 minutes till the zucchini is slightly wilted but not soggy.
- Serve the zoodles with the meat sauce on top.