If you have read this post about Shirataki, or Konnyaku noodles, you probably remember what konnyaku is. As a reminder, it’s a Japanese plant also called konjak, devil’s tongue or yam (Amorphophallus konjac), transformed into flour and then mixed with water to produce a sort of gelatinous, transparent substance, which is usually formed into noodles or rectangular blocks.
Until a couple of weeks ago I had thought the above where the only forms in which konnyaku was sold. This was before I saw these:
They are called “tama konnyaku” and translated as konnyaku balls, although in my opinion they look more like gnocchi. Just like the noodles and the rectangles, these are sold in bags filled with water, have almost zero calories, no carbs, contain lots of fiber and give a very quick sensation of satiety. I have bought them and only afterwards started to wonder how to prepare them. Thanks to Hiroyuki’s (Hiroyuki’s Blog on Japanese Cooking) kind translation of some Japanese recipes, I was finally ready to cook. I have also learnt, thanks to Hiroyuki, that my tama konnyaku were not just any tame konnyaku, but a high quality product. Another reason to cook them properly!
I have decided to combine both recipes I was kindly given, substituting dried squid with dashi (as Hiroyuki advised), modified them a bit and then had this crazy idea to add fried bacon (or the smoked lean pork you see on the above photo), onions and shiitake. The result was a surprisingly good combination of Japanese and Western flavours, giving a false high-calorie feeling (especially when lean pork is used). Black pepper somehow binds this fusion.
Preparation: 30-40 minutes
Ingredients (serves one):
1/2 package of tama konnyaku
5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or 3 tablespoons normal soy sauce)
10 tablespoons dashi
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon potato or corn starch
1 tablespoon oil
5-6 fresh or dried, sliced shiitake (if dried, soak them in boiling water until they are soft)
50 g bacon or lean smoked pork (sliced)
1 onion (sliced)
lots of freshly ground black pepper
Drain and rinse tama konnyaku. Cook them in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
Rinse them once more.
Heat the oil in a pan.
Fry the onion on low heat until it softens.
Add the bacon or lean smoked pork and shiitake.
Fry at higher heat until shiitake are cooked.
Put the onion, the bacon and the mushrooms in a bowl.
Without washing the pan, stir-fry tama konnyaku for a couple of minutes.
Add the soy sauce, the dashi, the sake and the water shiitake were soaked in if you used dried shiitake.
When half of the liquid has evaporated, add the cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water and stir well so that it coats well tama konnyaku.
At the end add the onion and the bacon, ground black pepper, heat everything in the pan and serve.