Konnyaku Notes

I’m learning to make konnyaku, a kind of hard gel made from konjac root, common in Asian cooking. People on keto diets are often eating the noodle-shaped form, called shirataki or ito-konnyaku (string konnyaku), as a pasta substitute.

The ingredients are simple: glucomannan powder, water, and calcium hydroxide, aka slaked lime, cal Mexicana, or cal. The technique, however, is pretty difficult.

First attempt. 15g glucomannan powder, 1.5 cups warm water. Beat well to mix. Added 1 scant T cal powder. The mistake was to not create lime water – I just added powder. The gel was full of bitter dry pockets of cal. The texture was very good, though.

Second attempt. 10g powder, 1 cup water. Beat well to mix. Added 1 scant teaspoon cal to water, dissolved, and then added this to the gel. Gel turned white, and I beat it well. Molded and hardened. Forgot to heat the gel, so I microwaved for 1 minute at 750watts. Cooked well. I should have let the first stage of gelling happen a bit longer.

The problem was the flavor: way too much cal. Had to slice up the konnyaku and boil, and repeatedly change water, to get most of the cal out of the yam cake. The end product is a little too hard, but it’s edible.

I then referred back to this recipe, which is the basis for everything I’ve done… but decided to try and use less cal.

Third attempt. 10g powder, 1 cup water. Mixed water into powder, and then heated up the gel. Mistake was to not mix in a totally dry bowl. The powder clumped, and some of it didn’t get wet. Added 1/6 cup of water with a tiny amount of cal – less than 1/4 tsp. Less than pinky-nail size amount. The gel did not turn white. Molded and cooled. Cooked it, and the gel filled up with water, and the bubbles expanded.

I think this was not enough cal. The gel has a very “fuzzy edge” and just expanded a lot. I had to fold it over a few times while it cooked.

This is definitely not the konnyaku I know, but it does have a pretty nice “fatty” quality that reminds me of boiled tendons. It had very little flavor; if anything, it was like water.

Again amounts: 10g glucommanan powder, 1 cup water, < 1/4 tsp cal in water.

This is actually close to product of my very first attempt, where I made konnyakku, initially, with too much water and cal, and then created a second batch without only the remnants of the failed attempt.

I think there’s a lot of potential for this “loose” form of yam root jelly: it feels like a soft version of boiled beef tendons.

I’ll update this post as I try to make more konyakku.

Update May 21, 2021

I got really discouraged when my mom didn’t like the konyakku, and I basically gave up on the project for a long time.

I didn’t really expect criticism to hit so hard.

I’m feeling motivated to restart, though. Time heals all wounds, even the ones you don’t know you suffered.

The Product

I purchased: 100% PURE GLUCOMANNAN KONJAC ROOT POWDER 1000g, on eBay from eulbe_66. It arrived very quickly, in days, and the transaction went very smoothly.