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What are Asian Noodles?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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Asian noodles are types of noodles made and enjoyed throughout various regions of the Asian world. They can be made from a wide range of substances, such as egg, rice, and bean starch, and are typically used in a variety of different dishes, from soups to stir fries. Some of the most popular types of noodles include egg noodles, cellophane noodles, rice noodles, ramen noodles and specific types of Japanese noodles such as soba noodles and udon noodles. Asian noodles are typically as varied and specific as the different cultures they originate from, and experimenting with different types of noodles while cooking is often the best way to learn about and enjoy them.

Noodles are a type of food made through the production of dough, which is then cut into long, thin strips for eating. One of the most common ways to organize and classify Asian noodles is by the substances from which they are made. Egg noodles are similar in many ways to Italian pasta and American ideas of what pasta should be like. Though different cultures tend to take credit for the creation of noodles, one common story is that Asian noodles were the first to be made and were brought to Italy by Marco Polo. Egg noodles are made using egg, wheat flour, and water and are typically flat and often used for dishes such as soups and stir fries.

The same dough used to make egg noodles is typically also used to produce the wrappers for wantons and egg rolls. Cellophane noodles are Asian noodles made using bean starch and water to create long, thin strands. They are typically fairly translucent and become almost clear during cooking, resembling edible strands of fiber optic cables. Rice noodles tend to be made using rice flour and water and are used in a number of different dishes throughout countries such as Vietnam. They are often used in soups and salads, and some Vietnamese dishes simply top them with ground meat and a light sauce.

In the United States, one of the most famous types of Asian noodles is ramen noodles. Though typically connected to the fast, inexpensive packaged foods that are commonly associated with college cuisine, they can also be used in stir frying and soups. Soba noodles are one of the staples of Japanese cuisine, and are made using buckwheat flour to produce a heartier and more substantial noodle. Recipes such as lo mein and chow mein typically use udon noodles, which are flat and thick and hold up well when combined with so many other ingredients.

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