Tag Archives: pak choi

The Free-From Food Awards Shortlist (and Slim Noodles and Zero Noodles)

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The Free-From Food Awards Shortlist has just been published. Set up six years ago by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson of freefromfoodsmatter.com, these Awards celebrate the innovation and imagination shown by the food industry in creating foods for the free-from market (ie foods that do not include one or more of wheat, gluten, dairy products, eggs, yeast, soya and sugar.) It’s worth mentioning the website Foods Matter here… Originally a magazine offering information and support both to food allergic/intolerant consumers and to the health professionals caring for them, it went on-line in 2010 and has become the most awesome reference site for people with food allergies/intolerances or coeliac disease (logging over 13 million hits per year!)

I took part in the judging for a day and was hugely impressed with the whole process. There were 11 of us that day and we blind-tasted every entry in our categories in silence, making notes and scoring each one out of ten. Once we had finished, we discussed every entry and then came to our conclusions as a group. This done, we could look at who had produced what. During the day I was there, we covered Breakfast Cereals and Grocery Ambient, including pastas, sauces and condiments.

It was great to taste so many of the entries. Some of them (especially some from outside Britain) I hadn’t come across before. And it was fascinating to sit there, tasting pasta after pasta, cereal after cereal etc against each other. The variety of ingredients, and combinations of those – and the resulting tastes and textures – were really interesting. The results of the awards will be announced in April…

One of the products we tasted was especially interesting. Shortlisted for the Pasta Award, the Slim Noodles were a subject of a great deal of discussion. Recently launched, it is gluten-free and it claims to deliver not only a feeling of fullness, but also an unbelievably low calorie content (7.7 calories per 100g serving). Made from a vegetable extract called Konjac (or Konnyaku) which has apparently been eaten in Asia for centuries because of its health benefits, it expands in your stomach, leading to the sensation of being full for up to four hours. Zero fat, zero sugar, low-calorie and low-carb, it’s currently being hailed (along with a very similar product called Zero Noodles which is made of exactly the same ingredient) as the answer to weight loss for many, many people. What’s more, independent studies apparently show that it can help increase insulin in your blood sugar levels, making it great for diabetics, and can help lower cholesterol. Wow!

Slim and Zero Noodles

Slim Noodles comes in three different guises – Slim Pasta, Slim Rice and Slim Noodles. The Slim Noodles – and Zero Noodles – look very similar to glass noodles and thin rice noodles in that they are white-coloured and very thin. They have a slightly rubbery texture (the Slim Noodles I find more so than the Zero Noodles) and almost no taste. I tested these at home this weekend with a recipe (see below) and they both worked really well with noodle-style recipes, such as stir-frys and Asian-style dishes. I haven’t tasted the Slim Rice yet but the Slim Pasta was very similar to Slim Noodles – just thicker, apparently more like a pasta-shape. I’m not convinced about the concept of Slim Pasta, though, as it doesn’t work for me as something that would work with pasta sauces, such as tomato-based sauces, and there was a slightly ‘fishy’ aroma to these, I thought.

You’ll find both the Slim Noodles and Zero Noodles in health food stores. In Holland & Barrett the Slim Noodles sell for £2.49 and the Zero Noodles (organic) for £1.99. They’re the same size – so go for the cheaper Zero Noodles if you’re looking to try the product!

Asian-fish Zero Noodles

Steamed Asia-Style Fish with Zero Noodles

gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free

Serves 2     Preparation time 10 minutes, plus at least 1 hour marinating time     Cooking time 12–15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 fish fillets, such as salmon, trout or cod
  • 2 large salad onions or 6 spring onions, white part finely chopped
  • stir-fry vegetables, such as beansprouts, pak choi

Marinade:

  • 2cm/¾in piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stick, finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 serving of Zero Noodles, to serve
  1. Put the fish in a shallow, non-metallic dish. Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl or jug and pour over the tuna. Cover with a lid or cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably longer.
  2. Spoon the marinade into a large wok and heat over a medium-high heat. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the onion starts to soften and turn translucent. Add the vegetables and then place the fish on the top. Cover with a lid and steam for about 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve hot with the prepared Zero Noodles.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Pak Choi-Wrapped Fish

Spring onions turned up in my veg box this week and it made me think of lighter, Asian-style food. I’ve been meaning to try this idea out for a while, but it’s felt too wintery recently. But as the blossom is now in full bloom on the trees and the weather has turned warmer, I thought it would be good to try this.

Spring onions are often combined with ginger and sesame oil, and these marry wonderfully well with the subtle tastes of pak choi and white fish. I’ve used pollack because the sauce makes the fish taste delicious, and I’ve added lots of the sea vegetable, arame, to maximise the healthy aspect of this dish. Arame, like all sea veg, contains high levels of iodine, which, as well as boosting your immune system, it helps to keep your metabolism working at an optimum level.

I bought some Chinese rice wine for this dish – and it was a revelation! I’m not sure what I was expecting but, to me, it tastes rather like sherry. The recipe uses 5 tablespoons of the wine and the bottle says that the wine will only keep for a week. So there was no choice, really – we had to drink the rest. (Yep, the detox is over!) I had bought Doragon Sake – and we drank it warm as the bottle suggested, slowly over the course of a couple of days. It’s opened my eyes to a whole new world of wine!

Preparation time 10 minutes     Cooking time 10 minutes     Serves 4

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, citrus-free

Ingredients:

  • 2 pak choi
  • 6 spring onions, cut into strips
  • 1cm/½in piece root ginger, peeled and cut into strips
  • 4 skinless white fish fillets, such as pollack
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 tbsp Chinese rice wine
  • 3 tbsp tamari
  • 150ml/5fl oz/scant ⅔ cup miso soup
  • 1 handful of arame
  • steamed rice or cooked rice noodles, to serve
  1. Remove the 2 outer leaves from each pak choi and immerse in a bowl of boiled water for about 1 minute until the leaves have softened. Refresh under cold running water and leave to one side. Cut the remaining pak choi into quarters.
  2. Arrange the spring onion strips and ginger on the top of the fish and wrap the softened pak choi leaves around the fish, tucking each end under the fish.
  3. Heat the sesame and olive oils in a large wok over a medium heat until hot. Pour in the rice wine, tamari and miso soup and add the arame, making sure the arame is immersed in the liquid. Bring to the boil, then place the fish on the top and cover with a lid. (If your wok is too small for all the fish, cook in batches.) Cook for 5 minutes, then add the remaining pak choi quarters and cook, covered, for a further 3–5 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Serve immediately with steamed rice or rice noodles.