Types of noodles
There are many types of Asian noodles made from a variety of ingredients, from wheat to rice and even mung beans and potato starch. With all of this variety, there can be a lot of confusion about which noodle is the right type to use in your stir-fries, salads and soups. With this guide, you'll be able to choose your noodles with confidence and know which noodles to substitute if you can't find a particular variety.
Discover a few of the most popular Asian noodles below, what to cook with them and how to substitute them.
What are soba noodles?
Soba noodles are a thin, light brown-grey noodle with a distinct earthy and nutty flavour from buckwheat flour. This versatile noodle is served cold in salads or with simple dipping sauces in the summer, and in winter it’s served hot in soups.
Soba noodles can be found either fresh in vacuum packs, frozen or dried.
How do you cook soba noodles?
Cook dried soba noodles in a large pan of boiling water for 4 minutes or until just cooked through. Do not overcook, as soba will become mushy and fall apart. Stir occasionally to separate the strands. Drain immediately and rinse in cold water to remove excess starch.
Cook fresh soba noodles the same way, but reduce the cooking time to 2 minutes or until al dente.
Try these recipes with soba noodles:
What can you use instead of soba noodles?
There aren't any noodles that really replicate the flavour, texture or colour of soba noodles, but in a pinch you can use ramen noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti.
What are rice noodles made from?
Rice noodles are usually made from just rice and water. They come in varying shapes and sizes, from thin rice vermicelli, to rice stick noodles (used in pad Thai) and large, flat rice noodles. They are usually available dried in cellophane packaging.
How do you cook rice noodles?
Rice noodles can simply be covered with boiling water until just tender. Rice vermicelli only needs 2 minutes, thicker or wider noodles may take a few minutes longer, so test every minute.
Try these recipes with rice noodles:
What are egg noodles?
Egg noodles are made with egg and wheat flour, they have a chewier texture than pasta (which is made from the same ingredients).
What are Hokkien noodles?
Hokkien noodles are a type of egg noodle, you can recognise it by its bright yellow colour. Used across various Southeast Asian cuisines, these chewy spaghetti-looking noodles are great in traditional Hawker type dishes and as well as in our own Aussie style stir-fry recipes. Hokkien noodles can be bought fresh, or pre-cooked and vacuum packed.
How do you cook egg noodles?
Simply cover with boiling water and stand for 1-2 minutes. Separate strands with tongs before draining and adding to your adding to stir-fries or soup dishes.
Try these recipes with Hokkien noodles:
What can you use instead of egg noodles?
If you can't find any variation of egg noodles, you can substitute with a thick, whole egg spaghetti that has been cooked and drained.
What are udon noodles?
Udon noodles originated in Japan and are made from wheat flour, salt and water. Udon noodles are pale, thick and have either a round or square-ish shape. They have a characteristic chewy and slippery texture.
They have very little flavour and so are a perfect vehicle for rich sauces and fragrant ingredients. Udon noodles can be used hot in soups, stir fries and also served cold in salads.
They are sold either semi-dried and vacuum packed, dried and, if you’re very lucky, freshly made at Asian grocers.
How do you cook udon noodles?
Fresh vacuumed-packed udon noodles do not require pre-cooking. Refresh by soaking in boiling water for a few minutes and stirring with tongs or chopsticks to untangle the noodle strands. Drain well before adding directly into your soup or stir-fry.
Semi-dried noodles should be cooked in boiling water for 5-8 minutes, while dried udon noodles need to be cooked for 10 minutes.
What noodles can you use instead of udon noodles?
You can use soba or ramen noodles in stir fries, but they don’t have the same texture and thickness. Choose thicker ramen noodles to substitute in dishes with broths.
This quick noodle dish uses instant ramen for extra convenience, they pair well with the rich eggs in this budget-friendly meal.
What are ramen noodles?
Ramen noodles are a relatively thin, long and bouncy noodle that originated in China, but is now most often associated with Japan. Made primarily of wheat and egg, it has a springy, firm texture.
Dried ramen noodles are available in most supermarkets in cellophane packs, you can also find fresh ramen in the refrigerator or freezer section of Asian grocery stores. Note that dried ramen is different to instant ramen in flavour and texture, so make sure to check which type of ramen your recipe requires.
How do you cook ramen noodles?
Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add noodles and keep at a steady rolling boil. Stir gently and separate the strands. If serving the noodles in a hot broth, undercook the noodles by 30 seconds and drain well. If serving cold, cook until tender, drain and rinse in cold water.
Try these recipes with ramen noodles:
What can you use instead of ramen noodles?
If ramen noodles are not available, substitute with Japanese udon. These are thicker and have a different colour but will provide similar texture. You can also try vermicelli rice noodles or even thin spaghetti.
More noodle recipes
There are many types of Asian noodles, and even more noodle dishes! Discover more noodle recipes that you can make at home.
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