This was my question posed to a waiter at a local restaurant a few months ago. “What in the heck is Konnyaku and why do I care?”. Konnyaku is not only the name of a local restaurant that just opened up in our little town but it also is the main ingredient in many of their entrees. As explained to me by my very informative waiter, Konnyaku is a traditional, Japanese, jelly-like health food made from a kind of potato called “Konnyaku potato” (rough English translation is elephant yam) and calcium hydroxide or oxide calcium extracted from eggshells. Konnyaku potatoes are cultivated for food only in Japan, but wild forms grow naturally in China and Southeast Asia. The Japanese have been eating Konnyaku for over 1500 years. 97% of Konnyaku is water and 3% is glucomannan or dietary fiber. It is also rich in minerals and very low in calories. It has recently been found to normalize the level of cholesterol, prevent high blood pressure and normalize the level of sugar in the blood. It is said to be the ideal weight control food because Konnyaku expands the digestive system and gives the feeling that the stomach is full. In addition, it is said to clean the toxins in the intestines.
Is Konnyaku gluten-free? Yes, it is since it is derived from all natural ingredients – in particular the Konnyaku potato.
So, why the lesson in Konnyaku, you might ask? Well, after hearing this from our waiter I was impressed that this strange ingredient could be so beneficial to our health and since this is our Wellness issue at Glutenfreeda.com, I thought it would be great to share this information with our readers.
Now, let’s talk taste. In the restaurant I went to, Konnyaku was served in nearly all their entrees as I stated before. It kind of looks like a jelly-like but somewhat firm substance and virtually has no taste. I had it in a stir fry dish and it really just tasted kind of like a noodle. I preferred the pieces that were on the small side since the texture wasn’t my absolute favorite…meaning I wouldn’t want to just chew on a big piece of Konnyaku. It certainly wasn’t offensive and I thought it was very interesting to have the ability to add a virtually tasteless ingredient with so many health benefits to your meals.
I also recently received a product from a company called Strumba Media LLC which produces a product called the Miracle Noodle (www.miraclenoodle.com). These noodles are made from Konnyaku as well. These noodles have no discernable flavor or odor and will absorb the flavors of any sauce or preparation. Again, this product made 100% Konnyaku contains zero calories, boosts soluble fiber intake and is soy free and gluten-free.
Again, this is a very interesting food that most of us, particularly in the US, are unfamiliar with. I encourage you to check it out. For more information on Konnyaku check out this link: http://www.shakespeare-w.com/english/konnyaku/whatis.html.
- Chef Jessica