The simplest things in life are the best. When hubs and I were dating I remember one of the “get to know you” questions was what kind of noodle we liked best. I guess as noodle-loving Asians we each had strong views on this. Hubs loves yellow noodles, especially a fettuccine-like flat yellow noodle called “mee pok”. I preferred rice noodles, especially a thin flat white noodle called “hor fun”. As a teenager I remember Saturdays where I would head to a particular Ipoh Hor Fun stall in Funan Center just to have my noodle fix. It was comforting and slurpy.
Since starting on a low carb lifestyle, these noodle options have become taboo. It is really hard for an Asian to give up rice and noodles as these are twin pillars of Asian food culture and our collective food memories. Eventually I discovered shirataki noodles (which, interestingly enough was the very first blog post I ever wrote on this blog). Shirataki noodles is a form of konjac noodle that is sold by Japanese groceries. It is usually packed in lime water to preserve the structure of the noodle, but smells completely awful when you open the bag. There are multiple ways of getting rid of the smell and my favourite method is to drain and rinse the noodles under running water, then dry roasting it in a non-stick pan. This pretty much solves the lime water problem.
However as a testament to how much low calorie or low carbohydrate diets have become, I have noticed an influx of different forms of shirataki noodle of late – of course there are different forms they are sold in – shirataki rice or blocks are probably easier to find. I usually slice the blocks to mimic a thick flat noodle called “kuay teow”.
Shirataki blocks can be cut into any shape you want for cooking.
And I recently also discovered a noodle that is sold in cute little bundles (found in Isetan supermarket). I was intrigued that this noodle was available in a really popular steamboat place called Hai Di Lao.
Cute little bundles of shirataki noodles are ideal to throw into a steamboat.
Then I discovered a form of tofu shirataki that is shaped like my favourite Hor Fun noodle! This was a chance discovery in a Japanese grocery (Iroha grocery in Plaza Singapura). I confess I do spend quite a few random moments walking through every kind of supermarket and this was like finding treasure! This noodle contains okara or soy pulp, which makes it higher carb than plain shirataki noodles (about 11g per serving instead of the usual 2-4g). But it is well worth it for me and when I had it in this soup I didn’t need to bolus extra insulin for it.
I made a Hor Fun Soup with this new tofu shirataki noodle. Ipoh Hor Fun is truly my absolute favourite noodle dish and it usually comes in a soup or dry version. This soup version is easy to make as it uses left over chicken bones and prawn shells to make a really flavourful stock. The stock carries the whole dish and is only very simply flavoured with salt and pepper. The absolute simplicity of flavours is amazing and this bowl brought happy tears to my eyes. I confess I was slurping this noodle down the moment I put it in a bowl – while kid#2 reminded me reproachfully that I hadn’t even said grace and given thanks for the food! What can I say? It was simply good.
Low Carb Ipoh Hor Fun Soup
- 1 chicken carcass
- 1/2 kg prawns
- 1 chicken breast
- 100g bean sprouts
- 1 sprig of spring onions, green parts sliced into 2 inch lengths
- 3 cloves of garlic, diced
- 2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 4 packets shirataki noodles
- Fried shallots (optional)
- Peel the prawns and set aside the shells. Slice the prawns lengthwise in two.
- Turn on the sauté mode for the Instant Pot. Add the peanut oil and allow it to heat up for several minutes.
- Add the prawn shells to the pot and sauté for 2-3 minutes. As the prawn shells turn pink, add the garlic in and sauté further for another 4 – 5 minutes till the prawn shells look a little caramelized.
- Add the chicken bones to the pot and fill up the pot with water until the 4 L mark. Add the salt and ground white pepper and stir through, making sure all the chicken pieces are immersed.
- Turn off the sauté mode and close the pot, putting the valve into the sealed mode. Put on manual high pressure for 1 hour. Allow natural pressure release when done.
- Drain the soup stock and discard the bones and shells. Put the drained stock back into the Instant Pot (or you can simmer over the stove as well). Put the pot on sauté mode.
- Poach the chicken breast for about 10 minutes. Remove and shred the chicken.
- Poach the prawns briefly for 1-2 minutes till pink and just cooked through. Remove and set aside.
- Poach the bean sprouts for 1 minute and set aside. The bean sprouts should still be slightly crisp.
- Prepare the shirataki noodles. Most shirataki noodles come in a liquid which is strong smelling and needs to be drained. The noodles usually need to be dry roasted in a non-stick pan. However the noodle preparation I used in this recipe did not come with lime water and could be used directly in the soup when drained.
- Place a portion of shirataki noodle into a bowl. Place chicken, prawns, bean sprouts and spring onions on top. Ladle on the soup stock and sprinkle 1-2 tsp fried shallots to garnish. Serve hot.