Here’s a beginner’s guide to Asian noodles, which are easy to find these days. Ten years ago, soba, udon, bean-thread and rice stick noodles, among others, were rare finds. Now, many well-stocked supermarkets carry these authentic noodles. Here’s a brief lexicon of the most commonly used varieties. Shown above, Udon Noodle Soup with Crisp Vegetables.
Buckwheat noodles (soba): A spaghetti-shaped noodle combining hearty- tasting buckwheat flour with wheat or whole wheat flour.
Buckwheat variations (jinenjo soba, lotus root soba, mugwort soba): These soba noodles contain a mixture of wheat and buckwheat flour plus the ingredient for which they are named. All are delicately flavored.
Bean-thread noodles (also called cellophane noodles, harusame, saifun, mung bean noodles): Fine, transparent noodles made of mung bean starch. Cooked by soaking in hot water, these delicately flavored, wheat-free noodles come in 2-ounce bundles.
Rice-sticks (also called mei fun, bifun, rice vermicelli) and rice noodles: Long, fine noodles made of white rice flour, with the same mild flavor and tender texture of white rice. These are cooked by soaking in hot water. Rice noodles, wider and flatter than rice-sticks, are popular in Thai cookery.
Somen: These spaghetti-shaped noodles are imported from Japan, where they are traditionally eaten cold during the summer months. A smooth-textured whole wheat version is available in natural food stores.
Udon: Long, somewhat thick noodles akin to linguine. The whole wheat variety of this Japanese import is available in natural food stores and has a smoother texture and milder flavor than domestic whole wheat pastas.
VegKitchen has tons of Asian noodle dishes! Here’s a sampling:
- Soba Noodles with Snow Peas
- Vietnamese-Style Bean-Thread Noodles
- Udon with Spinach-Miso Pesto
- Udon Noodles with Asparagus and Cashews
- Szechuan-Style Eggplant with Noodles
- Bakmi Goreng (Indonesian Noodles)
- Vegetable Chow Mein
- Spicy Asian Peanut-Ginger Noodles
- Here is a selection of Easy Asian-Style Noodles Soups.
- You’ll also find lots of Cold Asian Noodles Dishes.