Thursday, July 2, 2009

Konjac flour

Konjac, also known as glucomannan, is a water soluble dietary fiber derived from the konjac plant. They are used to make a type of noodle known as "shirataki" in Japan.It is marketed as a no carb, no gluten, no calorie noodle, that makes you feel full quickly and for long periods of time, thus making it a good weight loss option. I don't care about that. What is very unique about this flour is its gelling properties. When cooked with water and a catalyst, which in this case it has to be lime, not the fruit but the mineral, its alkalinity contributes to its gelling. Once the water is gelled, it is not thermoreversible, in other words, it cannot melt through heat. So it is heat resistant to an extent, meaning that you can put it inside a hot liquid or broth and it won't break down. It will also take on the flavor of the liquid or broth. Once it is cooked it doesn't smell or taste like anything. While it is cooking though, it has a foul fishy aroma to it that is highly off-putting.

I tried it a few times with different instructions and recipes and I couldn't get it to gel correctly. Finally, I substituted the water for grape juice (Welch's... what?) and poured it into a very thin layer and let it set overnight. It seemed to do the trick, but only after I flipped it over and let that underside dry for a few more hours. It was a very elastic, chewy dough, and it was 100% grape flavors. I put it to the test by serving it with a very hot lightly sweetened jasmine tea and some tapioca pearls, very similar in texture, steeped in a hibiscus infusion. I found it very interesting that both tapioca and konjac have very similar properties, as far as texture, flavor neutrality and the capacity to absorb flavors without loosing its texture. Tapioca will eventually break down if exposed to excessive heat for a prolonged period of time. But when I recently cooked tapioca starch with water, it looked exactly the same as when I was cooking the konjac flour.

There are definitely many more possibilities for this product. I am very interested in using it s I use tapioca, but with hot desserts or other preparations.

1 comment:

  1. I had somewhat good results when I dryed the Konjac "pasta" in the oven. Then you are able to slice it nicely. Overall it does not compare very much with pasta tought.