Well, there were plenty of warnings. Apparently these suckers are the fugu fish of pasta substitutes. Prepared properly, they're pretty damn good. Prepared improperly... they're mushy, slimy, strongly fishy-smelling, and rubbery. The most descriptive horror story likened them to "noodles made of raw calamari".
So I prepared them VERY carefully, and that takes a while. Spent about 15 minutes carefully rinsing & turning them in a colander to remove half the "fishy" smell caused by the liquid it is stored in in the packaging. Then another 5 minutes to cut them into reasonable lengths, as about half the noodles were nearly as tall as I am, which is a bit WTF. Then spreading them out in a thin layer on a paper-towel-lined plate and microwaving them for one minute on high to evaporate most of the remaining liquid, then blotting them with another paper towel to get the last of it. Seriously, the liquid is your enemy. (In more ways than one, but I'll get to that later.) It took three batches to get them all through the microwave (I was making a rather large tuna casserole so it took 3 packages), but I was finally done and the initial fishy smell was all but nonexistent. It may actually have been nonexistent since I'd already opened 2 cans of tuna, so it was hard to tell. Mixed up the rest of the casserole and plunked it in the oven.
The final result? I don't think anyone's ever going to mistake these for normal noodles. They were still a bit oddly stretchy (need to cut them smaller next time, unless I'm doing an actual pasta dish), but the taste and texture were quite pleasant in their own way and we both agreed the dish was delicious and this was a great, inexpensive, and easily accessible substitute. (It's sold at Sprouts market, which is a block away from us.) We went to bed, happy and full.
Remember how I said liquid is the enemy when it comes to these things stinking? Guess what happens as it passes through your digestive tract? As of this morning, asparagus has been officially toppled from its reign as King of Foul Side Effect Foods. Also, as previously mentioned, it's extremely high in fiber. Everyone knows what that means.
Aromatic and... cleansing effects aside, I'm still counting it as a win for substitute in noodle casseroles. It's also fairly inexpensive (one two-actual-person-serving package cost me about a dollar) and I can use the extra fiber, vitamins and calcium. Next time I'll try the spaghetti version as an actual pasta dish base and see how it holds up.