Asian cuisine shines at using noodles in all forms so they are hard to pass up, no matter what the weather. Summer noodles can be shared plates and refreshing bowls to enjoy and in the winter months can be added to meals, stir frys and soups for either hot and spicy or mild and refreshing flavours. They’re quick to cook and hard to get wrong. Here’s a complete guide to the types of Asian noodles available.

WHEAT-BASED NOODLES – Made with just wheat and water, these noodles can range in colour from quite yellow through to white. More like fresh Italian pasta, they often are a mix of different types of flours to give different textures. Here are the most common types:

UDON – A thick and unctuous noodle, udon is soft, yielding and very dense. They are Japanese in origin, but are similar to noodles found in other areas of Asia. Made from wheat, udon is good in stir-frys or added to soups.  Before using they need to be refreshed by soaking for 2-3 minutes in a bowl with plenty of boiling water – use chop sticks to untangle them as they soften then drain well before using.

HOKKIEN – A fresh, chewy noodle with a particularly robust texture and deep yellow colour. Popular in Singapore and Malaysia, they’re the basis of famous hawker dishes such as Hokkien mee, curry mee and loh mee. Blanche briefly in boiling water (about 1 minute) before being added to stir-fries or soup dishes.

SOBA – Taking their name from the Japanese name for buckwheat, light brown soba noodles are thin and are commonly served cold in summer months and make a great salad ingredient. They’re also served hot, either in broth, or drained and with a dipping sauce on the side.

RAMEN – A Japanese wheat noodle with a yellowish hue, can be purchased either fresh or dried. They come in a variety of sizes, although most tend toward thinness and are used in hot broths.

SINGAPORE – A thinner style, suited to Singapore Fried Noodles dish or even great in a noodle salad. Quick and easy with no pre-cooking required.

THIN EGG STYLE – Thinner, firmer egg-style noodle, most popular Cantonese Noodle. Used in Mie Goreng, Wonton Noodle soup or Chow Mein. Quick and easy with no pre-cooking required.

RICE NOODLES – A staple of Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines, the rice noodle is made from rice flour and water. A very stable dried noodle, it cooks fast and has a distinctly finer texture and taste to wheat noodles.  Some prefer rice noodles over wheat or yellow noodles simply because the rice based flour is a healthier choice especially for gluten-free and weight loss diets. Here are some common types:

RICE VERMICELLI – This popular thin, dried rice noodle is fine and brittle in appearance and packaged in bundles. Neutral in flavour, they can be used in soups, salads and stir-fries, as a base for curries and other saucy dishes and an accompaniment to grilled meats such as Vietnamese bun cha. Soak them in boiling water for 6-7 minutes then rinse under cold water to separate them. They can also be deep-fried from raw, for use as a crunchy garnish or to form crunchy nests.

RICE STICK NOODLES – A dried rice noodle that’s perhaps most famous as the noodle used in Pad Thai.  Although on the thin side, it does come in a few different widths, the widest being similar to fettuccine. When cooked, rice stick noodles are elastic and strong, making them a good candidate for stir-frying as they won’t break apart. To use, they first require soaking in hot water to soften them, with time-varying amongst brands. If you’re serving them straight up in boiling soup or throwing them into a stir-fry for further cooking, use them straight from soaking. If you want softer noodles, boil them for 2-3 minutes after soaking.

BEAN NOODLES – Thin bean thread vermicelli is made from mung beans and cooks very fast, only needing to be soaked in hot water before being added to the other ingredients. One of the most common noodles throughout Asia, it has few calories and is high in protein, can be eaten hot or cold. Other organic bean noodles include Edamame and Black Bean.

Other versatile cooking varieties of noodles include:
BAKED: Boiled and drained noodles combined with other ingredients such as casseroles.

BASIC: Cooked in water or broth then drained, served plain with dipping sauce or oil or combined with other food such chow mein or fried noodles.

CHILLED: Served cold or mixed in a salad such as Thai glass noodle salad and cold udon.

FRIED: Noodles stir-fried with various meats, seafood, vegetables such as chow mein, pad thai and mie goreng.

SOUP: Noodles cooked and served in broth such as pho, beef noodle soup, laksa and ramen.

We hope now that you know more about noodles, you can create your own meals based on your preferred taste and texture or alternatively you can go to our recipe page for more inspiration!