As with many things that have been around for thousands of years, there can be healthy debates about who “invented” something and it’s no different when it comes to noodles. As most of us know, noodles are a long stringy type food used in many an Asian dish. However, don’t be surprised if you hear an Italian say they were the first to pass the idea on or, indeed someone from the Middle East.
The debate of where noodles originally came from aside, these days there are a vast amount of different varieties used in Asian cooking alone and in this article we aim to give you an idea of some of the most popular.
Oh, and by the way if you hear noodles being referred to as either fresh or dried, this is due to the amount of starch they contain when they’re produced.
Fresh Rice Noodles
If you want the best of the best with this type of noodle, you’re much better off paying a visit to an authentic Asian food shop although they can be found in your local supermarket if that’s not possible. Generally, they’re made from water and ground rice.
However, do bear in mind you can buy both thin and thick varieties. Thick is best used when you fancy a stir-fry and thin is best for soups. Also bear in mind that if you want to enjoy them at their freshest you should use them within 7 days, and soak them in warm water to help separate the “strands”.
Chow Mein Noodles
These can be purchased either fresh or dried and are an excellent addition to a tasty stir-fry. You can tell a Chow Mein noodle because it doesn’t look unlike a strand of spaghetti. For those of you with dietary issues, remember this type of noodle does contain wheat and is enriched with egg.
The best way to cook them is to add the required amount to a bowl, cover with boiling water and drain almost immediately before adding them to your stir-fry.
Rice Stick Noodles
These are nearly (if not always) dried and like rice noodles are also made from rice and water. However, unlike rice noodles they’re almost translucent, very thin and flat. Because of this they’re great for soups, salads and stir-fries, and if you’re using strong flavours it’s a good idea to use rice stick noodles as they’re very good at absorbing them.
Again, be careful with these if you’re intolerant to egg or wheat as this is what they’re made from. Hokkien noodles usually come fresh in vacuum packs. If you’re interested in using these, make sure you look in the refrigerated section at the supermarket.
Thickness is also the key with these and they can be thin or thick. Thin is best for use with salads or soups and the thick (fettuccine) type are best used in stir-fries. If you’re a stir-fry “nut” using Hokkien noodles are the best because they don’t break easily.
So there you are! Several options of noodles for Asian cooking but then, as you know we want you to experiment with your cooking skills so don’t discount using them with others types of foods as well.