NoOodles: the Sleeper Canvas [Review]

Ok. A sleeper is a great movie that no one has actually seen. Argo very nearly was one of these. But, we were talking about food. These NoOodles I have found even at favorite box store, on sale for $1.50, sometimes even $.99. Keep your eye out for the Groupon specials which sends you 24 of them for pennies a piece  Buy some first in small quantity to make sure they are your bag.

This may seem steep to those unaccustomed to buying for folks with allergies, but– if you have issues with gluten and weight loss, corn or any number of frightfully common allergens, these are both inexpensive and a God send.

At any rate, NoOodles seem to be the perfect food.  There is just one hurdle to jump.

That is, opening the bag.  Sure, the bag does cut very nicely. But there is this… odor from the liquid that the noodles float in that’s kind of fishy. Not that really horrible, nasty, dead for three months kind of fish, but the kind of fish smell that makes you wonder a bit.

I can see how that would throw some people off. But it’s the compounds that are used to keep the noodles together, and it’s perfectly edible and won’t hurt you, I promise. Heck, if I’m not allergic to it, it probably is inert.  What you do is rinse, rinse, rinse– for nearly a minute under cold water. I find that you can rush the process a bit by using warm water, but you get better results with the cold, as per the manufacturer’s instructions.  It may be a deal breaker for the younger set, though. Maybe not if you can figure out how to dye them green. 🙂

They are made out of yam starch/fiber, and are near relatives if not identical to “glass noodles” you find in Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants. I have to wonder if the Okinawans didn’t figure out how to make these out of desperation. There was, at one point after the Second world war, when the only thing that harvested well was Yams. IN fact, there was a bumper crop, and no one really knew what to do with them.

They had too many yams, and not enough things to do with them. A wise and funny (but politically incorrect) movie talks about one enterprising young man’s idea of brewing it into a strong alcoholic drink. I suspect that there were left over materials, and, it wouldn’t  surprise me if sooner or later someone hit upon the idea of making noodles out of it.  This is entirely speculation on my part based on obscure historical trivia that I happen to know, but at least it’s interesting.

So, about NoOodles.  They are amazing not only because they don’t affect your GI, but they are also very versatile  pick up flavors readily, are quite filling, and won’t give you olestra style discomfort or other side effects (that I’m aware of). As always, YMMV, but I sometimes think people should pay me for trying new things– just for the entertainment value of seeing what will happen to me afterwards.

The secret is that you must steep them in flavorful sauces or concentrated broth/stock that gives them flavor. Kinda like tofu, except less persnickety, and, as an added bonus, something I can eat. It won’t give you protein, but at least it isn’t a hormone trigger.

They are also really inexpensive. As in, $2 a bag tops.  If you are cooking for one or two, that’s nothing, especially when you consider the convenience factor. If you soak them in a vinaigrette dressing or some other sauce for one to two hours or over night, you don’t even have to heat them up.

One of my favorite tricks is to make a sauce, put in half a bag, then store the remainder in the rest of the sauce in the fridge for tomorrow or sometime within the next four days. Though I have stored them much longer with vinaigrettes if they are salty, acid and stable.

Margo’s Ad Hoc Asian Noodle Toss-Up

Asian sauces for these noodles seem to make themselves. I tend to put together stuff based on Coconut Aminos, rice vinegar, a little cherry syrup/agave, ume plum vinegar, ginger, garlic,sesame hot pepper oil, rice bran oil,  and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.  Let that soak for a bit– even half an hour is better than nothing. Or you can heat up the sauce in a small pot (don’t boil), then toss the noodles in, let simmer for 5-10 minutes, then pull off the heat and add a bag of ice. Once cool, then add some tofu or sliced chicken, scallions, shredded carrots, kale (not authentic, but I put it in everything) black mushrooms and you are all set.

For those of you who like exact measurements– I just don’t do that for sauces or quick toss- ups like this. I try my ingredients and apply them based on proper proportions  I will try to reconstruct if it makes someone happy.  I tend to overdress, so you might want to edit my numbers for yourself.

  • 1 rinsed bag of NoOodles
  • 2 tbs of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of rice bran oil
  • 1/2 tbs of coco aminos
  • 2 teaspoons of cherry syrup(agave varies so much, use taste to find your level of sweetness) or 2 tbs of pureed plums
  • 1 dash of ume plum vinegar (to taste– you can also use fish sauce)
  • 2-3 dashes of hot sesame oil
  • 1/2 inch of ginger minced finely
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic minced finely
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 tbs of black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup of chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup of shredded carrots (if you want to julienne, be my guest),
  • 1/2 cup of diced chicken (peeled off of a rotisserie bird usually)
  •  3 tbs of mushrooms, or however many looks good for you

This will serve at least two hungry people.

Remember that the hot sesame oil is strong stuff, you want the oil for the vinaigrette to be mostly rice bran oil. It’s practically a condiment. Instead of rice bran oil can also use grape-seed  or canola or peanut oil. If you want, you can also use plum sauce or processed prunes (chop 3 prunes, cover with water, put in microwave, tap it for 1-2 min on high, let cool chop in food chopper, then use as a sweetener), or Nectrese as a sweetener instead.

Another dish I like to make is when I’m craving something creamy with noodles. It’s kind of inspired by middle eastern cuisine–  but again, I’m riffing off of flavors, not observing Mrs. Assad in the kitchen.  I think this would also make a decent tabbouleh dressing for those who are dairy impaired.

If you are looking for uber authentic, well I’m not your girl. But I can promise that they taste good… at least to me. 🙂  For this one, the heating technique doesn’t work so well. The sauce becomes very thin and doesn’t stick so well to the noodles once it’s heated up. So make it the night before, or at breakfast so it sits for at least 2-4 hours.

Margo’s Vaguely Middle-Eastern Toss-Up

  • 1.5 teaspoons of sesame paste
  • 2 tbs of lime juice (I use key lime juice, just ’cause)
  • 2 tbs mimicreme
  • 2 teaspoons of zahtar (ground sumac)
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground fenugreek
  • 1/2 teaspoon of toasted cumin
  • 2-4 tablespoons of processed dates
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of caper brine

Smash garlic into a paste, use garlic paste, squeeze the juice of of it, or chop it up and don’t worry about it. 🙂  Set aside.

Get a glass medium sized mixing bowl. Drop the over-full teaspoon dollop of sesame paste onto the bottom of the bowl. Pour over it the lime juice, caper brine, and spices (including zahtar). Start blending the whole thing, slowly working the thick paste into something vaguely creamy looking.

Start your work with a spoon, graduate to a whisk when you have made some progress and won’t get club-whisk. Now add the garlic and the dates. Stir with a whisk. Taste. If it seems strong, that’s good. IF it’s inedible, add some more mimicreme or dates, but keep in mind that the noodles will mellow out the flavor considerably. Toss in the noodles and stir thoroughly. Adjust seasonings to taste. Most of the spices and so on are approximate, so use your best judgment.  If you get to this point and it tastes… off for no discernible reason, add some Worcestershire sauce. I know, it’s a travesty, but it does work.

You don’t want it too sweet, either.  YOu can add more chicken,tofu or some other protein, maybe some chickpeas or lentils if you are feeling like that.  Though my usual go is (yes) more Kale, and kippered seafood snacks (usually kippered herring), and chopped cucumbers. I am not partisan here, I like both Brunswick and King Oscar. Though Brunswick is at least a dime cheaper.

Then add whatever leftover meats or veggies would taste good. Diced roasted eggplant comes to mind. Or you can just sprinkle it with sesame seeds, scallions and diced cucumber and call it a side dish for something else.  This dish cries out for being made to accompany middle eastern leftovers that aren’t quite enough for a full meal.

One last thing: should you buy NoOodles in quantity, and you have cats, and you feed said cats treats from a bag, make sure you store your bags of NoOodles in a *closed*, cat proof box or sealed container where the cats can’t get at them. I had them stored in open boxes in the pantry. The cats discovered them and clawed holes in them, trying to get at the “fish”.  I tossed out 5 or 6 bags of noodles for this reason.  It’s possible that other carnivorous and mischievous beasts will find them intriguing too.





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