wide variety of noodles used in Asian cooking can be confusing. Use
this guide to become familiar with a few popular types.
noodles are used in all types of dishes because of the wide variety
and their availability. They are made from ingredients such as buckwheat
flour and mung beans. They're perfect for "one-bowl" meals
or for large gatherings. Entire books have been written about Asian
noodles and recipes abound, both in cookbooks and on-line.
Asian cooks typically
cook their noodles until well-done - they're soft rather than al dente.
Some of the thinner varieties can be deep-fired for a bird's nest treat
that is tasty and decorative.
Also called glass noodles, Chinese vermicelli, slippery noodles, and
bean threads. They are clear and when cooked become gelatinous. Mung
bean starch is used to make these noodles. They are used more for texture
than for flavor and are great for soups as they absorb the flavors of
If you find these in an Asian market, there may be no directions or
they may not be in English. The noodles should soak in hot water for
no more than 15 minutes. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil, add
the noodles, and turn off heat. Pay attention as they can turn glassy
in a hurry - even a few seconds. Once they are soft, drain and rinse
in cold water or they will become gummy. They can also be added to a
stir-fry. A 2-ounce package yields approximately 24 ounces of cooked
Chinese Egg Noodles
So similar to Italian pasta that if you can't find a good quality, use
pasta instead. Cold noodle dishes use Chinese egg noodles. Do not overboil
as they will turn to mush. They are similar to the American version
of egg noodles, but those sold in Asian markets may not contain any
Also called lo mein, you'll find these in several varieties at Asian
markets. Boil or stir-fry according to package directions and use in
soups and stews or in stir-fries. Linguini is a good substitute.
These are the variety included in quick-cook lunch bowls found on supermarket
shelves. They're curly Japanese noodles and come in a variety of flavors.
Vermicelli or soba noodles can be substituted. As an alternative trip
to an Asian market, purchase the inexpensive soups and use only the
Also called rice sticks or rice vermicelli. Become clear when cooked
and are somewhat like bean threads. The thin varieties should be soaked
in hot water to soften before cooking, then boil or stir-fry for less
than a minute. They work best in light soups and are great in salads.
Medium and thick, flat noodles require a longer cooking time; they can
be added to stir-fries and soups.
Made from rice flour. They are dried on bamboo mats, which is where
they acquire the weave-looking surface. Used as wrappers, they should
be soaked before filling.
Also called buckwheat noodles. Thin and grayish Japanese noodles; should
be cooked like spaghetti. They are, by tradition, served cold. They
are said to have a nutty flavor and more healthful than most noodles.
Also called white noodles. They are Japanese in origin and made from
wheat flour. Chewy and thick, they can be served cold or add to soups.
Cooking times are about the same linguini, which is also a good substitute.