Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kung Pao Chicken with Shirataki Noodles

I first heard of Shirataki noodles some time ago, but was skeptical of them. They are an asian-style noodle that come in fettucine shape and spagetti shape, and are only 20 calories per serving (comparable to a serving of regular pasta that's 200 calories). How can they make them so low-cal? What could be in these freak noodles?? I have never been one for "fake foods", so I was not terribly interested until I discovered they are actually an all-natural food, made from the root of a plant with some tofu thrown in to improve the consistency (they are rather chewy). They are high in fibre and so keep you feeling full for a good long time. Some complaints I had heard about them were that they were fishy-smelling,rubbery, and generally unappetizing. The good press seemed to focus mainly on the calorie count, so I was not very optimistic about results. Well I have to say, I LOVE these noodles! I love the chewiness, and I find that when you follow the prep directions carefully, the odd fishy smell is completely removed and they are a blank slate for whatever flavour you put on them. I don't think I will be using them as a pasta replacement; pasta (whole wheat for me) has it's place in a healthy diet, too. But sometimes you just want a nice protein-filled dish without too many carbs but still with some bulk to it and a good vehicle for sauce.

My variation of Kung Pao Chicken is just that. If you want to make it a more balanced meal, feel free to replace the Shirataki noodles with some other noodles, like whole-wheat spagettini or rice noodles, or even omit the noodles completely and serve it over a bed of brown rice. It's really versatile that way. Oh and delicious; don't forget delicious!!

Kung Pao Chicken with Shirataki Noodles

1 lb. skinless chicken thigh meat, cubed
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing cooking sherry or red wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp vegetable oil
6 dried red chili pepppers, sliced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can bamboo shoots
1 large carrot, diced or sliced
1 stalk celery, diced or sliced
1 small onion, sliced
8 mushrooms, quartered
1 small red pepper, diced
1 package Shirataki noodles** or cooked brown rice
1/4 cup peanuts or cashews, roasted and unsalted
2 stalks green onions, sliced

2 T low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp cornstarch
Mix together in a small bowl.

Make the kung pao chicken: Mix the chicken with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, cooking sherry, and sesame oil. Let sit for 30 minutes. Heat a wok, sauté pan, or large frying pan on high heat. When hot, spray with cooking spray and add the chicken and stir-fry until browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken the from pan to a bowl. Add oil into pan and toss in the ginger, garlic, and red peppers, stirring until the oil is fragrant. Add the veggies and stir for several minutes, then toss in chicken, bamboo shoots, and noodles if using. Pour in the sauce and continue to stir-fry until the chicken is coated and veggies are tender-crisp. Add the green onions, stir, sprinkle with nuts and serve hot.If not using the noodles, serve over rice.

You don't have to put the nuts on. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

Makes two very generous servings.

Nutritional values: For shirataki noodle version without nuts: 426 calories, 12.6g fat, 46.4g protein, 28.6g carbs, 5.4g fibre, 570mg sodium.

**VERY IMPORTANT Instructions for making the Shirataki noodles palatable: Drain package into a colander and rinse well with water. Throw noodles into a large bowl and microwave for 1.5 minutes (or put in boiling water for one minute). Drop back into colander and rinse again. When you think they are well-rinsed, rinse some more. Then put them back into the bowl, fill with fresh water, and swish around for a minute or two. Drain again and rinse some more. When you are starting to feel horribly guilty about all the water wastage, they are finally done. Drain well and drop them onto a bed of paper towels and pat dry (after all that water, you will feel guilty about the paper towel wastage too, but I can't help you with that.) Now they are squeaky clean, dry, and ready for use!

If this seems too terrible and labour-intensive to contemplate, go ahead and make some brown rice instead.


  1. I'm astounded by those noodles! But they sound like a lot of work.

    This looks so tasty! You are so good at photographing your food.

  2. This sounds great! I will be making this for sure!! Thank you.