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Ramen to Udon: Oodles of Asian Noodles

Living in Hawaii gave me a forever-love of Asian food, including a variety of Asian noodles perfect for all sorts of delicious dishes. Noodles are just as important to Asian cuisine as rice. In fact, Asian noodles are used abundantly in soups, stir-fries, salads and main dishes.

Made from wheat, rice, mung beans or buckwheat, some noodles also have goodies like powdered green tea, lotus root, mugwort, egg yolks or sweet potatoes added to the mix. Here’s a noodle sampler along with some recipes:

Udon are thick, delicious Japanese noodles made from wheat flour. They’re great in hot or cold soups or salads, or served with a simple sauce (try mixing garlic, ginger, tamari and a dash of toasted sesame oil).

Soba are Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. Remember, buckwheat is gluten free and unrelated to wheat. Although some soba noodles are 100% buckwheat, many are a combination of wheat and buckwheat flours. Check your label if you’re avoiding gluten. Soba noodles are delicious in stir-fries with plenty of veggies such as mushrooms, carrots, onions and scallions. 

Ramen noodles are fairly well known ever since the introduction of instant ramen noodle soup. Made from wheat flour, these Japanese noodles are often served in piping hot broth, topped with bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, sea veggies or scallions.

Bean thread noodles are often called cellophane or glass noodles. They’re thin, translucent noodles made from mung bean starch and water. Since they are precooked by boiling and soaking, there’s no need to cook. Simply soak in hot water until softened. Enjoy in cold summer salads with an assortment of vegetables including zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, scallions, garlic and tomatoes. Toss gently with light vinaigrette dressing or other favorite dressing. 

Rice noodles are made from a combination of rice flour and water. Because they are precooked with steam, they only need brief soaking in hot or boiling water before serving. Toss with celery, grated carrots, chopped onions and cherry or grape tomatoes.  Delicious with tahini dressing!

Chinese egg noodles are made from wheat flour, eggs and water. They’re often shaped into nests or bundles. Try them in soups or served with a favorite sauce. 

Have you cooked with Asian noodles? Got a favorite or a good recipe? Let me know.