Konjac: The Healthy and Delicious Japanese Staple
Konjac is a root vegetable that is consumed a lot in Japan. It is used in a variety of dishes in Japanese cuisine and can also be eaten as a snack. Because of its high fiber content and low calories, it is a superfood with many potential health benefits. This is also why it's used in lunches of schools across the nation.
What is Konjac
Konjac (Konnyaku) belongs to the Araceae (Philodendron) family, the same family as yam and taro. It is also known as devil's tongue, snake palm, and elephant yam. Konjac has a long history of cultivation and consumption in Asia. The edible part of konjac is its underground tubers, which are rich in a dietary fiber called glucomannan.
There are several konjac products, including konjac flour made of dried and ground konjac which can be used to make noodles; the konjac jelly made of processed konjac flour; the konjac soluble fiber, a dietary supplement made by purified konjac jelly. Konjac has a texture similar to jelly and gelatin, but with a higher density. The color of konjac depends on whether it contains seaweed. The konjac with seaweed appears dark gray and the one without additives is white. Shiga even has a special konjac that is red.
The Benefits of Konjac
Since water makes up the vast portion of konjac, it is low in calories, containing only 0.07 calories per gram. In addition, konjac promotes the feeling of fullness because it expands when mixed with water, thus contributing to weight loss. Konjac contains the calcium that is essential to bone mineral density and potassium that promotes the elimination of excess sodium (salt) from the body. Therefore, konjac can prevent osteoporosis and high blood pressure while minimizing calorie intake.
Weight loss is only a small part of the health benefits of konjac. In fact, many of the health benefits of konjac are related to its high content of glucomannan, a soluble dietary fiber that helps maintain blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, regulate bowel movements, prevent constipation and accelerate wound healing.
Another beneficial component of konjac is ceramide. Ceramides fill the gaps in the cells of the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. It prevents water loss and helps keep skin moist. Consuming foods containing ceramides can stimulate the body to produce ceramides. Therefore, konjac can also help to prevent skin problems.
The Recipes of Konjac
Konjac has no flavor but can be flavored with sauces or broths. Its chewy texture makes it an ideal addition to any dish. The most standard shape is called ita konjac. The rectangular cubes are suitable for cooking and stir-frying. The tama konjac (ball-shaped konjac) can be placed in Japanese hot pots. Tsuki konjac refers to ita konjac cut into long, thin strips, similar to noodles. There is also tsubu konjac, the rice-sized konjac. It can replace rice to reduce calorie intake. Dishes that contain konjac include:
- Sukiyaki: It is a Japanese hot pot that usually includes white roasted noodles made from konjac.
- Oden: It is a winter dish consisting of several ingredients, one of which is the konjac knot.
- Sashimi Konjac: It is a vegan sashimi. The konjac added with additional flavors, such as seafood or citrus, is sliced thinly like sashimi. Sometimes it is colored green to indicate that it is flavored with citrus. It is often enjoyed with wasabi and soy sauce or sweet miso and wasabi paste.
- Konjac Ramen: It is a low-calorie alternative to noodles.
Konjac is also a popular snack. Konjac jelly is healthier than regular jelly because it contains vitamin C and collagen. It comes in a variety of flavors, such as peach, lychee, strawberry, grape, and so on. Konjac jelly can also be added to juice drinks, similar to bubbles in milk tea.
Recently, konjac-based foods were widely welcomed in the Western market. It is an ideal substitute for starchy foods such as rice, pasta, and spaghetti. Considering that konjac contains low calories and is rich in minerals, it is an excellent food for anyone who wants a good figure.