Notes On Noodles


August 30, 2006|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun reporter

As summer wanes, Asian noodles make a fine foundation for crossover meals. Served cold, they give substance to salads and agreeably partner with peanut sauce. As the weather cools, noodles heat up in stir-fries and soups. They are literally and figuratively flexible.

In that spirit, don't be limited by where the noodles come from. Fresh Chinese egg noodles are a core ingredient in Malaysian and Singaporean cooking, writes James Oseland in the new cookbook Cradle of Flavor. In The Spicy Food Lover's Bible, authors Dave DeWitt and Nancy Gerlach pair Japanese udon or soba noodles with mustard greens. Rice sticks are common in Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisine.

Rice sticks

This is the most popular type of Asian noodle, according to the book Cooking Light: Pasta. Made from rice flour and water, these noodles can range from vermicelli-thin to a medium size found in pad thai to a flat, broad variety used in meat, seafood and vegetable stir-fries. In Vietnam, thin rice sticks are called bun. Among other uses, they fill salad rolls, writes Mai Pham in Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table.


This thick Japanese noodle, similar to spaghetti, can be round or square and made of wheat or corn flour, writes Sharon Tyler Herbst in The New Food Lover's Companion. In The Best Recipes in the World, Mark Bittman writes that udon noodles are generally made with softer wheat than Italian pasta, giving them a more tender texture that works well in stir-fries.


These straight noodles made from buckwheat flour are a specialty of northern Japan, according to the Web site They often are served cold. In Korea, a similar noodle called naeng myun appears chilled in bowls of clear soup, the site says. The most basic soba dish, says the site, is zaru soba - in which boiled, cooled soba noodles are eaten with a soy-based dipping sauce called tsuyu.

Chinese egg noodles

Chinese egg noodles (made with eggs and wheat flour) are sold fresh at Asian markets and some grocery stores. Cookbook writer Mark Bittman says that they can be handled as you would fresh pasta. They cook in about 3 minutes, then can be browned in a wok with spring onions and chives and tossed with soy sauce and sesame oil. In Cradle of Flavor, James Oseland recommends avoiding dried Chinese egg noodles; he suggests fresh Italian fettuccine as a substitute.

Cellophane noodles

Also called bean threads or glass noodles, these translucent strands are made from mung bean starch; their texture is more slippery than either rice or wheat noodles, write the authors of All About Pasta & Noodles, a Joy of Cooking book. They can be deep-fried to make a crisp nest.

For Asian noodle recipes, visit

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