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What are konjac (zero) noodles and are they calorie free?

We delve into the subject of konjac noodles: how many calories do they actually contain, what they are made of, and how should you cook them? Plus: our favourite zero noodle recipe, with poached miso ginger chicken broth.

Konjac noodles (also known as slim noodles, zero noodles and shirataki noodles) are not new to Asia, where they are easily available. But they are a pretty recent addition to Western grocery shelves.

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Virtually calorie free (on average 8 calories per 200g) zero noodles are made from the root of the konjac (konnyaku) plant, which is made into flour before being transformed into noodles of varying widths. They’re so low in calories, but still filling, because they’re very high in fibre.

Calories aside, there are some drawbacks to zero noodles: they smell quite off-putting, so don’t linger over them in their raw state; they have a slightly rubbery texture so won’t give you the same satisfaction as wheat-based noodles or pasta; and they taste of nothing. So however you choose to eat them, add plenty of flavour.

They do satiate hunger, are really quick to cook (3-5 minutes of boiling or stir frying), and are easily available from health food shops and supermarkets or online from zeronoodles.com. We like them in Asian-style broths with veg like in the recipe below…


ZERO NOODLES WITH POACHED MISO GINGER CHICKEN BROTH

30 minutes, serves 4, easy

light chicken stock 1 litre

ginger 5cm chunk, cut into slices

skinless, boneless chicken breasts 2

baby pak choi 4, halved

white miso 2 tbsp

sesame oil 1 tsp

shirataki noodles 300g, rinsed really well and drained

chives ½ bunch, chopped to serve

step 1

Put the chicken stock in a pan with the ginger, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts, poach for 10 minutes or until cooked through, then take out to rest. Cook the pak choi for 4 minutes, then take out of the pan.

step 2

Strain the broth into a clean pan. Add the miso and sesame oil and bring back to a gentle simmer. Slice the chicken and divide between 4 bowls with the noodles and pak choi. Spoon over the hot broth and serve sprinkled with chives.

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per serving 147 kcals, fat 2.6g, saturates 0.7g, carbs 3.7g, fibre 3.2g, protein 25.6g, salt 1.7g