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The Skinny on Shirataki Noodles

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for shirataki noodles 3.jpgAre you a pasta lover struggling to find a low carb alternative? Shirataki noodles may be the answer. These Asian noodles come in three varieties: white, brown and tofu.  Since the white shirataki noodles are made from the konjac plant, a subtropical plant, these noodles provide a high-fiber, low carb replacement to the gluten and carb-heavy spaghetti products we know well in the US.  For those looking to increase their daily fiber intake, look no further then the brown shirataki noodle. This shirataki comes packed with added calcium and iron for the health-conscious noodle lover.  Finally, tofu shirataki noodles contain high concentrations of protein by blending the konjac root with the nutritious soy bean curb of tofu.  This noodle works great in sukiyaki dishes or vegetable stir fries.

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Cooking shirataki noodles is easy as long as you follow a few initial steps.  Before you do anything else, be sure you've rinsed the noodles thoroughly.  When the noodles are clean, parboil (or partially boil) the noodles in boiling water for two to three minutes - or until the noodles have softened to suit your tastes.  Simply add your favorite sauce or include the noodles with a sukiyaki or vegetable stir fry of your choice, and enjoy!  Keep in mind that shirataki noodles can be long, so depending on how you're planning to prepare them, you may want to cut them to more appropriate lengths.

Shirataki's health benefits are obvious.  All of these asian noodle types are vegan-friendly, gluten-free and the closest low carb alternative to the wheat noodle available.  If you've been holding off that diet because it doesn't work with your high-carb noodle dishes - look no further than our assorted varieties of shirataki.  Asian Food Grocer is your source for shirataki noodles

sapporo-beef-noodle-soup-lg.jpgTimes are tough. Not a day goes by without a doomsday report. When the news is on it's tempting to put your hands over your ears and sing "la la la....I can't hear you." If the state of the economy scares you, forgo your fancy ingredients for cheap Asian groceries.

During the Depression, families survived on powdered milk, ketchup tomato soup, and (if they were lucky) stale bread. With our recession recipes, you don't have to resort to such extremes. Stock up on Asian noodles, rice, and other cheap but delicious ingredients. You could feed a large family on these tasty and wallet-friendly staples.

Every week, we'll show you the best budget Asian recipes. Feed the whole family on a delectable rice or noodle dish that only takes minutes to make. We found this genius Asian recipe for beef ramen tacos at the official Ramen homepage.

Ramen Noodle Tacos 

Ingredients
    • Beef Ramen (or chicken ramen if you prefer)
    • taco seasoning
    • 3 taco shells per pack of ramen
    • 1 teaspoon butter per pack of ramen

Warm taco shells according to box directions. Cook ramen to preferred softness and drain. Stir in 1 teaspoon of butter per pack of ramen into the warm noodles. Use 1/2 the amount of ramen flavoring you usually like, and then add that same amount of taco seasoning. Heap ramen into warm tacos and enjoy with lettuce and tomatos added to the top.

Who knew you could make ramen tacos? Comment below with your ideas for cheap eats  and you could earn a coveted spot in our recession recipe of the week. For fun, take the poll below and let us know which Asian noodles are your favorite- from shirataki noodles to udon noodles, Asian Food Grocer carries them all. 

lotte cool mint gum.jpgIf chewing gum is not included among your favorite snacks or has never interested your taste buds, Japan's Lotte gum may have the flavors and variety to change your mind.

Lotte chewing gum has been providing Japanese and Korean 'chewers' with a broader - and more unusual array - of gum varieties for over fifty years. Aside from providing those offerings we all know well such as Coolmint, Wintergreen, and Citrus, Lotte gum also comes in Blueberry, Green Tea and Melon.

Looking for more out of your chewing gum?  Check out Lotte's Black Black gum.  This intense flavored mint gum comes packed with ginseng, oolong tea extract, b3 vitamins and an added boost of caffeine.  For the adventurous gum enthusiast, check out Lotte's Lycee flavored product.

Lotte gums have a unique texture and intensity.  What a great alternative to the minty (ho hum) Western chewing experiences we're familiar with! Lotte's gum is also made with all natural products. What flavors of Lotte chewing gum have you tried? Answer our poll below!

Shop for Japanese candy and more available at Asian Food Grocer.

shrimp chips bag.jpgIt isn't easy to pick 10 favorites out of all the Japanese snacks out there. Walking down the Asian food store aisle, it seems like every colorful package is crying out, "pick me, pick me." No offense to all the other Japanese snacks, but shrimp chips (sometimes called prawn crackers) take number seven in our favorite Asian foods countdown. Crunchy, cute, and super addictive, shrimp chips are the triple threat of Japanese snacks.

Made from deep-fried flattened out prawns, these Japanese snacks can be found in Asian food stores across the U.S. Most Asian food stores carry pre-cooked shrimp chips (similar to potato chips) and translucent disk-shaped shrimp chips that must be deep fried before serving. If you are new to shrimp chips and would rather not dirty your frying pan, start with pre-cooked. Expect a subtle shrimp flavor and light, crispy texture.

When you buy shrimp chips, keep them crunchy. Don't let them sit in a partially opened bag or they'll quickly turn stale. Put some in a bowl and close the bag with a shrimp chip-clip (cute) or eat them all at once. Be warned, shrimp chips are super addictive and you can go through a whole bag in one sitting. Especially when watching "Iron Chef."

What chip would be complete without a dipping partner? Dip them in hot sauce, try them in cheese, or flavor them with Japanese seasonings. These hot and spicy shrimp chips make a flavorful stand-alone snack. Here's a little known secret about shrimp chips -- you can crunch them up and use them as breading for fried chicken. Pack your shrimp chips, shrimp-fried chicken, Ramune soda, and disposable chopsticks in a basket and head out on a Japanese-inspired picnic.

To find shrimp chips and other Japanese snacks, shop Asian Food Grocer. And check back soon for our number six in our favorite Asian Foods countdown.

Thumbnail image for miso.jpgAs the third installment of our weight loss series, we're focusing on miso soup. If you frequent Japanese restaurants, you'll instantly recognize the distinct miso flavor. But we have a recipe that rivals the best restaurants in town! Make this miso soup recipe and let us know what you think.

Learn to make a mean miso soup and you're well on your way to a skinnier, healthier you. Stock up on miso soup and paste or get miso soup and our other weight loss foods in this healthy bundle pack. Pssst -- there's a little known secret about miso. Miso makes a delicious dressing and marinade, so if you get sick of soup, try miso paste in other Asian dishes.

Ingredients:
* about 30 half-inch cubes of Tofu
* 4 mushrooms, sliced
* 2 stalks green onions, chopped
* 4 cups water
* 2 teaspoons Dashi
* 3-4 tablespoons miso (adjust to taste)


Directions:
Boil 4 cups of water and dashi. Add tofu and mushrooms, simmer gently about 3 minutes. Add miso and dissolve completely. Immediately turn off the heat and add chopped green onions, then serve
.

Who knew soup could be so simple? Find more delicious Asian food recipes and get on the road to a healthier (happier) you.
 
 Thumbnail image for asianwoman2.jpgYou've heard that French women don't get fat, but if you think about it, neither do most Asian women and men. What is their secret? In this special weight-loss series, we will outline the six Asian foods that help you lose weight and feel great about yourself. We have chosen these Asian foods because they are healthy, tasty, economical, and easy to prepare-really!
Read on to discover the Asian food entrees, beverages and desserts (that's right, desserts) that directly contribute to a more vibrant, energetic, and slender you! Without further ado, our first weight-loss Asian food....




Thumbnail image for noodles.jpg 1) Shirataki Noodles. The star of our Asian food weight loss series, these Asian noodles pack an amazing amount of health benefits. Unlike wheat pasta, the low carb, low calorie Shirataki noodles are composed almost completely of fiber. Fiber rich foods like Shirataki noodles absorb water, which means, in addition to major health benefits, you feel more full and satisfied than you would from eating other craze diet foods.  Don't stick to cabbage and celery stalks and feel famished all day long!  Our Shirataki noodles leave you feeling completely satiated, all while packing amazing health benefits. Did we mention they are ready in mere minutes?

       Shirataki Noodles Health Benefits

  • Decreased blood cholesterol levels
  • Possible reduced risk of heart disease
  • May reduce risk of some types of cancer
  • May reduce risk of coronary heart disease
 


NOTE: Shirataki noodles can be an acquired taste. Eat in small quantities to adjust to the new texture, and consider adding yummy garlic, tofu, spinach or soy sauce to spice up the flavor.
If you take nothing else from this weight-loss series (although we certainly hope you will), consider substituting your typical pasta for Shirataki noodles one or two times a week. Your body will love you!

5 More Great Weight Loss Asian Foods after the jump, so read on....

 


 

Top Ten Asian Food Blogs

Asian Food Grocer Blog Top 10

1) Adventures in an Asian Food Market. Love Asian food, but feel a little overwhelmed every time you set foot inside the vast Asian food store? If you have ever suffered from "aisle fright" while shopping in a Japanese food store, let blog author Deatren act as your Asian food insider, fearlessly trying all the Asian snacks on the shelf and reporting back on his favorites. Covering everything from disposable chopsticks to Japanese snacks and beverages, this blog is updated regularly with great candid reviews and clear pictures, so check out this cheat sheet next time before you hit the Asian food store. Hint: you can also shop some Asian food stores online to avoid in-store anxiety.

2) Sticky Rice. From the vivid imagery to the disarming dialog, the best word to describe this Asian food blog is "colorful." Sharp wit and often hilarious insight are just two ingredients in this "man on the street" approach to eating out in Hanoi. Great pictures and information-packed posts finish off this feast for the eyes and funny bone. Sticky Rice is less of a guide to cooking Asian food recipes at home (although there are a few), and more of a foodie guide for the out-and-about Asian diner, so enjoy!

3) Rasa Malaysia. Translated from Sanskrit to mean "Taste Malaysia" this Asian food blog is an absolute scene-stealer when it comes to gorgeous photographs of Asian food recipes. Generously bestowing all the knowledge she learned in her childhood kitchen in Malaysia, the blog author chronicles generations of Malaysian recipes, as well as Chinese and Japanese, in a light-hearted, educational tone. In addition to much more professional polish than the average blog, Rasa Malaysia features 90% original recipes. Check out this Malaysian masterpiece to see for yourself.

4) Noodles and Rice. Every food blog round-up must include a beginner's guide, so here it is. Noodles and Rice is a faithful little cooking-for-one guide to making Asian food, perfect for people who want no-muss, no-fuss Asian food recipes. Billed as "bachelor food" by the author, this blog features frequent posts, plenty of recipes, food reviews and cooking short cuts for the culinary novice. Great read too!

5) The Gary Soup blog. Gary Soup is blog writing at its best, from fascinating subject matter to intelligent, entertaining prose. In addition to the standard fare of Asian food guidebook reviews and Chinese food recommendations, Gary Soup bestows awards to the top "Chinese food mavens", chronicles the ten most popular Chinese teas, and includes a blow-by-blow photo essay of Paris Hilton attempting to eat Asian food in Shanghai. Culture and cuisine intersect perfectly at this cozy little blogspot, so check it out!

5 More Great Asian Food blogs after the jump, so read on!

Thumbnail image for golden curry.jpg If only there was an awards ceremony for the best Asian foods! Since we'll probably never get to see Pocky walk down the red carpet, we created our own weekly countdown. The number nine slot goes to the ultimate Japanese comfort food: Golden Curry.

curry man.jpg Because it is relatively easy to make, Golden Curry is like the mac-and-cheese of Japan. It is thicker, milder, and sweeter than Indian curry. The Japanese add it to many meat and vegetable dishes and commonly serve it over rice.

In the U.S., Golden Curry can be found at many Asian food stores; S&B Foods Inc. makes the most popular kind. In an effort to capture the fun flavor of curry, Japan introduced a curry spokesperson -- Curry Man, who now spices things up in the ring as an American wrestler. Yes, that's a plate on his head.

Get Creative with Curry

There is no golden rule with Golden Curry. Don't limit yourself to rice dishes; get creative with your curry! Pour it on mash potatoes, use it as a condiment on hot dogs, or as a dip for tortilla chips. The possibilities are endless.

golden curry over rice.jpg The Basics of Cooking Curry
Did we mention how easy it is to cook Golden Curry? Golden Curry comes in a sauce mix block (roux) or powder. Both are easy to use and take under an hour to make. Follow this recipe for Hot Vermont Curry and you'll have a savory dish in no time at all. Pick Mild Vermont Curry if you prefer a smooth taste to spicy. Keep in mind that Japanese curry is not as spicy as Indian curry, so don't be afraid to kick the flavor up a notch.


S&B GOLDEN CURRY SAUCE MIX - HOT

Directions:

  1. Cut 1 to 1-1/2 lbs of lean beef (or chicken, lamb, shrimp, or tofu)
  2. Dice one large onion.
  3. In a large skillet, saute meat and onion in oil until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. If desired, add carrots, potato, celery, or just about any vegetable you like. Discard excess oil.
  4. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat (and potato) is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Break Curry Sauce Mix (roux) into small pieces and add to pot stirring until (roux) is completed melted.
  6. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so stirring constantly. (If sauce becomes too thick, just add water)
  7. Pour over freshly cooked rice.    
 

To really impress your friends, experiment a little. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of curry powder, or top it with boiled eggs. To find Golden Curry, rice, and other Japanese snacks, shop Asianfoodgrocer.com.


From spicy curry to savory soup dumplings, Asian cuisine is amazing. Hard to imagine, but out of all the spectacular Asian dishes out there, we managed to select a few favorites. The number 10 slot in our weekly countdown goes to Shirataki noodles for being utterly delicious, easy to prepare, and yes, even a tad healthy.

Shirataki Mania

Shirataki noodles are translucent, low-carb noodles derived from a yam-like tuber known as Konjac. Although they don't have a discernible taste, they absorb whatever you throw into the pot. Slather these babies in soy sauce, garlic, or sesame oil. Some people might describe Shirataki noodles as "rubbery," but with a little love, some tofu, and a long boiling time, they'll arrive to your plate super soft and scrumptious.

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Success with Shirataki


Shirataki noodles come packaged in liquid and are ready to eat right out of the package. Just pour the noodles into a colander and rinse them under hot water. If you are cooking with spaghetti Shirataki noodles, cut them down first using kitchen shears. Then, boil for about one minute and add some flavor. Serve with vegetables, tofu, or beans to make the dish more filling.


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Shirataki Noodles, the New Diet Do

These noodles are not only versatile, they are a diet superfood. If you ever wondered how to incorporate noodles into your strict low-carb diet, try these. They contain glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber found in plants. Besides weight loss, eating a high-fiber diet is thought to have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. Glucomannan is also available in supplement form.


shirataki noodles 3.jpgIf you have a Shirataki recipe you'd like to share or any tips, please leave a comment. Don't forget to check back and see number nine in our countdown next week! You can find Shirataki noodles, recipes, and other Asian noodles at www.asianfoodgrocer.com.