There are dozens of Asian noodle varieties and many more ways to use them. Getting it right can mean a difference between a dish that falls flat and a meal so memorable it will be talked about for years to come.
WHAT ARE SOBA NOODLES?
Soba noodles take their name from the Japanese word for the flour from which they are made: buckwheat flour. The thin, brown-grey strands have a nutty flavour and chewy texture and, when served cold, make a brilliant addition to salads. They can also be served warm in flavour-packed broths and soups and topped with a protein of choice.
WHAT ARE UDON NOODLES?
Also coming out of Japan is the wheat-based udon noodle. Characterised by thick white strands that are soft, chewy and relatively bland, udon noodles make the perfect choice for letting stronger Asian flavours, such as soy sauce and ginger, shine. They work equally as well in soups as they do stir-fries and even better, often come pre-cooked and vacuumed sealed at the supermarket.
WHAT ARE RAMEN NOODLES?
A delight of university students everywhere is the budget-friendly, easy-to-prepare ramen noodle. Made from a combination of wheat flour and egg, these yellow noodles are usually long and thin with a chewy bite. Coming in both fresh and dried varieties, ramen noodles are fantastic in soups, pork and vegetable stir-fries.
WHAT ARE GLASS NOODLES?
Made from either mung bean, yam or potato starch, these vegetable-based noodles make the perfect gluten-free pick for those with allergies. The thin, almost translucent noodles are tougher than they look and are found in dried bundles. Softened glass noodles are found in a variety of Asian recipes from rice paper or spring rolls to stir-fries, soups and salads.
WHAT ARE VERMICELLI NOODLES?
Similar in texture and taste to glass noodles are the ubiquitous vermicelli noodle, branded as such because of their popularity in everywhere from Malaysia to China to Thailand. The difference lies in their base ingredient. Vermicelli noodles are made from rice flour instead of starch, but are also ideal for those avoiding gluten (look for brands with 100 per cent rice flour).
WHAT ARE RICE NOODLES?
Rice noodles, made from rice flour, are those medium-to-thick white strands you'll recognise from your classic pad Thai. Soft and chewy when cooked, they're also perfect in a hot, fragrant soup and other stir-fries.
WHAT ARE EGG NOODLES?
Egg, or hokkien, noodles are a type of noodle made from wheat flour and egg yolks, characterised by round yellow strands that are soft and chewy when fresh or crispy and firm when dried. This versatile noodle works well in everything from stir-fries to soups or can be deep-fried until crispy and added to salads.