When I find a new ingredient to experiment with in stores, it usually ends up being a new flavoring, whether it be a spice like Szechuan pepper or a fruit like persimmon. However, when shopping a couple of weeks ago, a newer product came across my eye - shirataki - that is more of a base of a dish than a flavor.
Shirataki is essentially pasta. It's got an interesting, pasta-like texture, warms through extremely quickly, and absorbs flavor extremely well - much like pasta. However, it is very low-calorie, at only 40 calories per pound! This is because the shirataki is actually made from a vegetable called Konnyaku, or "Devil's Tongue". It's got a special starch in it called glucomannan that humans can't digest, meaning we can't break it down into calories while it satiates our stomachs. The calories come from soy or other flavors that are usually placed into the shirataki (ie Tofu Shirataki has some soy in it).
This is the perfect diet base food for anyone looking to enjoying pasta dishes at a lower calorie level. I went for a spicier Spanish-Meixcan style pasta for this dish, combining flavors like chili and toasted cumin with balsamic vinegar and fresh tomatoes for a bold but balanced low calorie dish! How low, do you ask? Using the My Fitness Pal recipe calculator, one serving of the dish below is under 50 calories, with 4 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, and under 50 mg of sodium. Perfect for any type of diet!
Recipe serves 4 people.
2 8-oz packages Shirataki, drained
1 leek, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced (remove the wet pulp from the inside first!)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Thai chile (or small chili with your preference of spice), finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1. Add your cumin seeds to a pan on medium high heat. Toast for about 2 minutes until you can smell the cumin flavor from the pan.
2. Add in the olive oil and smoked paprika, and combine to get a reddish oil. Saute the leeks, chili, and garlic in the paprika-infused oil for 2 minutes, until the leeks turn soft. Season at this stage with your salt and pepper.
3. Deglaze the dish with balsamic vinegar, and mix well. Toss in the shirataki and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the fresh tomatoes, and serve!
This dish is incredibly warming and tasty while maintaining a healthy profile. With very little extra fat or carbs being added in, the shirataki makes for a great low-calorie dish that is perfectly balanced with the smokiness of the paprika, acidity and freshness of tomato, richness of the balsamic, and creaminess of the leeks. The aromatic cumin seeds cut through all of it to provide a great background of flavor. This has to be one of my favorite healthy dishes I've ever made!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)