There are a lot of quick dinner and midnight snack recipes with ingredients in the low single digits, but what puts this 4 ingredient konjac noodle stirfry is that it has all the convenience of instant noodles but without the calories.
I’m writing this at 2 in the morning and I don’t know about you, but when I work at these hours, I want to raid my pantry. Rising costs of basic commodities aside, that’s not the smartest thing to do night after night for someone who likes to go hiking. All that extra weight isn’t fun for these knees or energy levels.
So was I doomed to snackless all-nighters? Would I have to resign myself to a life away from the mountains?
The clouds parted. Down came konjac noodles floating on a cloud made of a light calorie count in the single digits. Depending on what brand of konjac noodles you buy, a 100-gram serving for one adult can have as little as 9 calories.
Ingredients for Konjac Noodle Stirfry
This konjac noodle stirfry takes the cake for minimalism. It doesn’t get much lower than 4 ingredients. Maybe 3, if you want to cut more corners. All that goes into this recipe are your konjac noodles, leeks, garlic, and oyster sauce. You can stick to that list if you want to stay true to the recipe, but personally, I like to add an egg every now and then just to give it more flavor.
You can add eggs to this dish in two ways. The first is frying an egg much like how you’d add a fried egg to instant stir-fried noodles. The other is scrambling the eggs into fine bits on your pan after you sautee your garlic. Either one works. This isn’t one of those recipes where one wrong move makes an inedible mess.
Alternatively, you can jazz up your noodles with grilled chicken breast so you can still keep your recipe healthy and low cal while enjoying a filling meal.
What Are Konjac Noodles?
One question I get asked a lot with this recipe is “What the heck are konjac noodles?” You may have heard some people call them shirataki noodles. Konjac, shirataki, potato, potatoh. They’re the same thing. Konjac noodles, or konyakku as it’s known in its native Japanese, are sometimes advertised as ‘miracle noodles’ because of their low-calorie count.
Konjac noodles are made of fibers that come from the root of the konjac plant called glucomannan which has been shown to help regulate the body’s absorption of carbohydrates and, therefore, sugar. While it’s not a diabetes cure, some studies have shown that glucomannan can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Since it’s mostly indigestible fiber and water, konjac noodles can help you feel full after meals. To be clear, this isn’t to say they aren’t safe for consumption, the FDA certainly thinks they are, but that you have to be very sparing with how much you eat. If you’re familiar with volume eating and other diet regulation techniques but still struggle with the urge to overeat, konjac noodles might be the trick you need to pull on your stomach.
Are Konjac Noodles Safe?
Some people have reported intestinal blockages as a result of consuming konjac noodles. This is due to glucomannan’s absorbent properties which can cause choking and blockage if it expands before reaching the stomach. That full feeling you get from eating konjac noodles? That’s because it’s the filler of the food world.
That said, konjac noodles aren’t bad for you. These side effects are relatively rare and a result of eating too many konjac noodles too fast.
If you’re eating them to lose weight, that’s fine for the occasional meal, but don’t switch out your entire diet for konjac noodles.
As nutritionist Samatha Ward puts it, “Konjac noodles should not be eaten as a staple. Yes, you’ll lose weight, but you’ll probably lose your energy, your shiny hair, and your faith in ‘health’ foods.” They’re better used as an addition to a healthy diet, not a substitute for one.
So what good are konjac noodles then? Well, if you have trouble ignoring cravings that you know aren’t real hunger signals, they can be a quick fix that doesn’t pack on extra pounds.
But What About All the Scary ‘Weight Loss’ Noodle Reports?
One report from Vice told the story of a woman who experienced painful cramps after eating four packages of konjac noodles. The noodles then congealed into a solid clump in her stomach. Vice also notes that woman had consumed 48 grams of fiber in the process — nearly double the FDA’s recommended daily value of 25 grams.
“FDA has long regarded the konjac tuber, as well as the flour produced from it, as safe, with a long history of use,” A statement sent by the FDA to NBC New York said, “To our knowledge, the FDA has not received any serious adverse effects reports related to this ingredient.”
TLDR: Konjac noodles are safe for consumption and can actually help you regulate your blood sugar levels, however, they are not meant to be staple food items as they are made of indigestible fibers.
Konjac Noodles Don’t Suck, Just Don’t Make Them Transfer Cuisines
A lot of people have bad first konjac noodle experiences and swear off the thing forever, but I’m here to tell you they don’t suck. Japanese sukiyaki hot pot is delicious and its noodles are all shirataki/konjac.
These flavorless noodles are best suited to the flavors and textures of Asian cuisine. If you actually cook them as spaghetti, which is how they’re advertised to be more familiar to non-Asian consumers, they’re gonna suck. The noodles just aren’t built for it and you’re going to notice the strangeness of the texture and the smell of the noodles right away. So just stick to the flavors of Asian cuisine and your konjac noodles should taste great. Sukiyaki, stirfry, pho, ramen, etc. those dishes with shirataki noodles as a substitute are safe plays.
The 4 Ingredient Konjac Noodle Stirfry
- 2 tbsp chopped leeks
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 3 cloves garlic
- 100 grams konjac noodles
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
Preparing Your Noodles
- Unpack your noodles and drain the water.
- Pour out the konjac noodles into a bowl and fill it with hot water.
- Leave the noodles to soak while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
Preparing Your Pan and Ingredients
- Take about two or three inches of a leek and chop it finely.
- Set your wok or pan on the stove and turn the stove to high heat. Wait for your pan to heat up for about 3 minutes.
- Once your pan is hot, add a 2 tablespoons of your cooking oil of choice.
- While waiting for your oil to warm up, peel 3 cloves of garlic and chop them finely.
- By now, your oil should be warm enough. Toss your garlic in and sautee until it browns.
- Turn your stove to low heat. Add your leeks.
Bringing Your Noodles and Ingredients Together
- Drain the hot water from your bowl of noodles.
- Add your noodles to the pan. Toss fast, taking care to avoid having your noodles stick to the pan.
- Slowly add your oyster sauce while continuing to mix. Coat all your noodles in oyster sauce and don't be afraid to add more if the noodles absorb it too fast for you to cover everything.
- Turn off your stove. At this point, you can fry an egg or add chicken breast to give your meal a little more nutritional value.