Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers (Konnyaku aglio olie e peperoncino)


Konnyaku is a wonderful food for anyone on any kind of diet - provided, of course, that you like it. I do like it - it has a very unique chewy-bouncy texture. I have described konnyaku and its noodle-shaped cousin, sharataki, before, but briefly, konnyaku is a grey to white colored, gelatinous mass which basically consists of water and fiber. It has almost no calories. Right out of the package, konnyaku and shirataki have an odd smell, but if you treat it properly (directions given below) you can get rid of that and just have the flavorless yet curiously interesting mass of goo that is going to fill up your belly in a very useful way.

This is something very easy to make in a jiffy. It’s basically taking a classic Italian spaghetti recipe and applying it to konnyaku. (Before you complian to me, my Italian readers, yes this is a complete bastardization of a classic. I mean, konnyaku instead of spaghetti? Really.) You could make this with shirataki too, in which case it will actually look like noodles, but I rather prefer the chewier texture of konnyaku. The only thing to watch for if you are on a diet is the amount of olive oil and optional cheese you use.

Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers (Konnyaku aglio olie e peperoncino)

Serves 1 to 2. If using 1 tablespoon of oil, the whole amount comes out to about 140 calories (plus cheese).

  • 1 large block (250g / about 1/2 lb) grey or white konnyaku
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 to 2 hot red chili peppers, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Prepare the konnyaku: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drain and rinse the block of konnyaku - it will smell odd! Slice the block into half horizontally, then slice thinly into strips. Put the strips of konnyaku into the boiling water. Bring up to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. (You may want to rinse off your cutting board in the meantime.) Drain the konnyaku into a colander, and let rest until the slices are cool and dried out. (This prep method is slightly different to the one I detailed in my old konnyaku article. I find it’s the best way to prep konnyaku for stir frying.)

In a large sauté pan, heat up the oil and add the garlic and chili peppers over medium heat. Sauté until the garlic is just turning color. Remove the garlic and chili from the pan and reserve. Add the konnyaku to the pan - it may spit at you a bit so be careful. Turn the heat up to high, and sauté until the surface of the konnyaku slices are blistered and turning a bit brown. Add back the garlic and chili peppers. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve just as-is or with some grated cheese on top. Best eaten when hot, though it’s not bad when cool either. Leftovers from the fridge are interesting. (For bentos, I might either use less garlic, scrape off the garlic, or use ginger instead - the garlic gets very pungent after a while for some reason.)

Asian-tasting variation

Add a few drops of sesame oil while sautéing, and some soy sauce in addition to or instead of the salt. Garnish with fresh chopped green onion.

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10 comments so far...

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Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

I read that konnyaku is a choking hazard. I'm assuming this is a recipe I couldn't feed to children, or is it thin enough to not be a problem?

S | 27 September, 2010 - 21:49

Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

The konnyaku that was banned in some areas for being a choking hazard were sweet konnyaku jellies. They are shaped like little puddings, and a few people apparently tried to swallow them whole - a rather silly thing to do. I mean, people could choke on a lump of dough just as easily if they tried to swallow it whole. As long as konnyaku is chewed properly, it's not a problem at all. (Of course whether your kids would eat konnyaku or not is another issue ^_^;)

maki | 27 September, 2010 - 23:21

Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

what a wonderful idea, I love using konnyaku! now I'm a carb lover, but having it with rice/noodles would probably totally defy the point of the recipe, wouldn't it?

Steph | 2 October, 2010 - 01:49

Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

this looks wonderful! definitely gonna try cooking this sometime this week :D

just wondering though, after it's cooked can it be kept overnight in the fridge and heated up the enxt morning? I'd love to put a konnyaku dish in my bento but I've never tried working with it before and don't know if it can be kept well :)

anon | 2 October, 2010 - 14:29

Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

Yes, it heats up very well. It's fine at room temperature too, though for bentos I prefer to leave out most of the garlic, for etiquette reasons ^_^ See the variation I made here.

maki | 2 October, 2010 - 14:44

Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

Thanks for lovely and educative post. I'm hugely inspired at the moment to cook Japanese, after a long fallow period. Your blog is lovely, I've been stopping by quite regularly lately. Best regards

sarah moore | 3 October, 2010 - 20:46

Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

Just a little remark, in Italian it's "olio", not "olie" :)
I've never been a fan of konnyaku, but spaghetti aglio e olio it's my favourite comfort food when I don't feel like prepareing anything, so if I can find it I'll give it a try.

Lum | 12 October, 2010 - 04:40

Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

This looks really good! But I'm wondering how big were your chili peppers? I have some on hand, but they are the really small ones.

Leung | 19 March, 2011 - 15:59

Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

I just stumbled across this recipe. I like the texture of konnyaku but I would like to prepare it for my mother who is still getting used to the texture (she has diabetes so this is ideal for her). Could I grind the konnyaku in a food processor until it was the size of rice? would it work? that way there would be less "chewing" for my mother to worry about!

anon. | 19 March, 2012 - 07:57

Re: Konnyaku with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers ...

I accidentally left the uncooked konnyaku out for a few hours and the package became close to room temperature.

Can I still eat it? I know it's perishable, but I'm worried if I cook it I'll get sick.

anon. | 26 June, 2012 - 06:28

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