Foodstuff: Kelp Noodles

Kelp Noodles 1

Kelp Noodles are…. Well, ‘noodles’ made out of Kelp. I came across this Sea Tangle™ product in Vancouver this summer and was curious to see what they would be like. My main interest is that they are supposed to be a low carbohydrate replacement for starch based pasta products, containing only 3 grams of carbohydrate in the entire 12 oz package.

The noodles are actually strips of kelp that have been ‘de-colorized’ somehow and then preserved with Sodium Alginate, a salt extracted from another type of seaweed. Water, according to the package, is the only other ingredient…

Kelp Noodles 2

Kelp noodles very much look like ‘bean’thread’ or ‘Cellophane’ noodles, but the similarity pretty much ends with the appearance. Cellophane noodles are totally tasteless and have a very resilient, chewy texture while this seaweed counterpart actually does have a discernible taste when tasted straight from the package. It is a very faint flavor, but one can detect a vegetal, even slightly grassy, taste. The texture, too, is quite different and the noodles will quite easily ‘break’ when bitten, yielding a more friable. Less chewy mouth effect.

 

Kelp Noodles 3

For a test run, I prepared a basic ‘Chow Mein’ using pork, shrimp, slivered green chili and carrot along with a little garlic and chili paste. One thing I found is that the noodles do not soften much (even with the addition of water to provide some steaming effect) and it actually makes them difficult to toss and turn with the other ingredients.

As for the final result, I have to say that, while not bad, these noodles are only a passable substitute for the ‘real’ thing. The mouth feel is not quite the same and, in all honesty, they just don’t provide the same satisfaction as other noodles. The cellophane variety also don’t have the same filling quality as the starchier noodle types, but here one gets the definite sense of culinary ‘inertness’. The package claims they are great for salads but, in my opinion, this is the last sort of dish where you would want to use them. They do the job in cooked dishes to a certain extent but, even the low carb value doesn’t make them especially attractive to me…

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