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Choosing Right Noodles for Asian Dishes, Best Asian Noodle Recipes

Updated on November 15, 2016
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John applies his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop recipes, food guides, reviews of healthy whole foods, ingredients & cooking

Selecting the right noodles for various Asian dishes is crucial for taste, texture and balance with the other ingredients.

There are so many to choose from, that it can be hard to know where to start.

You have probably enjoyed some wonderful noodle dishes in restaurants or markets and are keen to learn how to make similar dishes at home with readily available ingredients.

This article includes a summary of the information about the major type of noodles, their characteristics, features and suitability for various styles of dishes.

It also describes the best way to prepare them. It also includes the best ever recipes for each of the noodle types described to get you started.

Fabulous Noodles but which ones to choose for each Asian Dish?
Fabulous Noodles but which ones to choose for each Asian Dish? | Source

Udon Noodles

Udon Noodles
Udon Noodles | Source

Udon Noodles

The Japanese Udon noodles are soft, light and have a springy texture. They are best when made fresh, but the prepared ones are still delicious if cooked well. One trick is to cook the noodles in boiling until just soft and then to reinvigorate them in cold water, before re-heating them again to serve. The cooked noodles should be bouncy, springy and light. They are usually served in spicy hot broths topped with seaweed, barbecued pork and other meats. Udon noodles can also be served cold with a lovely dipping sauce and topped with spring onion and horseradish.

Stir Fried Udon Noodles with Chicken, Shrimp and Mushrooms

  • 16 ounces (500 g) udon noodles, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (fresh preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped Napa cabbage (or equivalent)
  • 1/4 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, pre-soaked in warm water for about10 minutes and then drained
  • 4 ounces (100g) oyster mushrooms
  • 7 ounces (200g) enoki mushrooms
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pound (124 g) skinless, chicken breast, sliced very thinly
  • 1/2 pound (250 gm) large shrimp, shelled, veins removed
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Chopped scallions or spring onions, for garnish

Heat one tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a skillet or wok. Stir-fry the shrimp over moderately high heat for about 2 minutes and set aside. Add another tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet. Stir-fry the chicken for about 3 minutest and set aside. Add the last tablespoon of oil to the skillet. and stir fry the carrot, mushrooms, cabbage, onion for about 4 minutes. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, stock and cooked shrimp and chicken; mix briefly and lower the heat. Meanwhile, boiling the udon noodles in a pot of boiling water, with salt added for 1 minute. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water and warm again in to boiling water. Drain and add to the skillet. Stir-fry all the ingredients over high heat for about one minutes to heat all the items. Add the garnish of scallions or spring onions and season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Hokkien Noodles

Hokkien Noodles with Shrimp and Seafood
Hokkien Noodles with Shrimp and Seafood | Source

Hokkien Noodles

These egg noodles originated in China, but are very popular in Malaysian and Thai dishes. Hokkien noodles are ideal for stir fries and salads. The noodles intensify and concentrate the flavor of a stir-fry by absorbing the sauce and flavors. Hokkien noodles are not usually popular in Thai or Chinese soup dishes as they are regarded as being too thick. The tip for fabulous hokkien noodles is not to overcook them. Don't use boiling water as this leaves them soft, starchy and mushy. Let the noodles cook during the stir fry where they will absorb the juices. Put the noodles removed from the packaging into a colander, and run warm water through them, while untangle and loosening the strands, shake off the extra water. Add to the stir fry in small batches. If you want to use hot water, don't soak the noodles for too long and rinse in cold water. If the noodles are to be added to a soup, blanch quickly in hot water, and stir to untangle, before putting in soup. But keep the time in the hot water brief.

Simple Beef and Hokkien Noodle Stir Fry Recipe

  • 1/4 cup fresh chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves or garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 green onions, cut into short pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 230g (1/2 lb) can water chestnuts, drained well and thickly sliced
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 600g (1.3lb) fresh hokkien noodles
  • 1/3 cup shao hsing Chinese cooking wine or sweet sherry
  • 750g (1.6 lb) beef rump steak, with fat removed and sliced thinly

Add the beef, wine or sherry to a bowl or dish. Let marinate for 10 -15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the noodles as explained above. Heat 1 tablespoon of grape seed, rice bran or peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Add half the beef and stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes, until just browned. Remove to a plate. repeat to stir fry the remaining beef, remove from the wok. Add the remaining oil and sesame oil, chestnuts, green onions, ginger and garlic and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the beef to wok and the oyster sauce, noodles and stock and noodles. Fry for about 1 - 2 minutes to heat through and serve immediately.

Vermicelli Rice Noodles

Vermicelli Noodles with Crab and Prawn
Vermicelli Noodles with Crab and Prawn | Source

Vermicelli Rice Noodles

These noodles are quite distinct from so-called glass or cellophane noodles. Vermicelli rice noodles are long very thin noodles made from rice flour. They are widely used for cold salads, added to rice-paper rolls, and for stir fries. Cellophane noodles (or glass noodles) are made from mung bean starch. In Korea, vermicelli noodles are made from buckwheat or sweet potato starch. One tip for using vermicelli rice noodles is to gently poaching the noodles to stiffen them before adding to the stir fry.

Singapore Vermicelli Rice Noodle Recipe with Pork and Shrimp

  • 2 limes, quartered
  • 2 red chillies, sliced
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 300g bean sprouts, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder or dried chillies
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced into thin half moons
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 12 raw medium size peeled tiger prawns
  • 150g pork fillets, cut into strips
  • vegetable oil (rice bran or grape seed oils are best)
  • 250g rice vermicelli noodles

Gently and briefly poach the noodles and drain. Stir fry the pork in a wok until it is just browned and cooked through, remove a set aside. Stir fry the prawns and set aside. Clean the wok out and add fresh oil stir fry the onion, ginger and pepper and fry until just softened. Then add the spices and fry for another minute. Then add the bean sprouts, noodles, soy sauce, chives and about 2 tablespoons of water and fry everything together. Make space in the wok, add the eggs and cook while stirring for about 1 minute, and then stir through the noodles.
Add the pork and prawns and heat through. Serve with sliced chillies sprinkled on top and lime wedges to be squeezed on when served.

Soba Noodles

Soba Noodles
Soba Noodles | Source

Soba noodles

These thin Japanese noodles have a delightful and appealing color ranging from light beige to dark brown and a distinct nutty flavor. The amount buckwheat flour used to make them determines their color and texture. Soba noodles are very tasty served cold. Japanese cold soba dishes are traditionally served with a soy-based dipping sauce and dressings of spring onions shredded seaweed and sesame. Soba noodles are also served in hot pork or soy broths with spicy tangy sauces. The secret to great soba noodles is to rinse them well with cold water after cooking until the rinse water runs clear. This stops them becoming starchy and helps the strands separate. They should be re-heated to serve.

Cold Soba Noodles with Toasted Sesame Seeds

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 5 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 250 grams (1/2 lb) soba noodles
  • salt
  • 75 grams (2.6 oz) sesame seeds
  • 5 spring onions for garnish

Using a dry pan, toast the sesame seeds over a high heat until golden brown, and set aside in a bowl. Cook the soba noodles in a large pan of boiling water with some salt added for 4-6 minutes. Test to ensure that they are tender but not mushy. When just cooked, drain and plunge them into a large bowl of iced water. Combine the vinegar, honey, soy sauce and sesame oil in a bowl. Add the finely sliced spring onions and the cooled, drained noodles. Blend in the toasted sesame seeds and toss again. The flavors intensify if the noodles are set aside for 10-30 minutes before serving.

Pho Noodles

Pho Noodles
Pho Noodles | Source

Pho Noodles

The heart and spirit of a pho noodle dish is the broth, and the subtle way the pho noodles are prepared to enhance the dish. Fresh pho noodles are best. but the reconstituted pho noodles are good as well. The fresh noodles soak up more of the flavors. The rejuvenated noodles are thinner and need to be soaked in cold water before cooking.

Beef Pho Recipe

  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 6 oz (170 g) pho noodles
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 8 oz (227 g) top sirloin grilling steaks
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 strip (3 inches/8 cm long) lime rind
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 thick slices fresh ginger root
  • fresh chopped mint, coriander or sliced green onions

Place the ginger, star anise, lime rind, cloves, garlic, coriander seeds and peppercorns into a piece of cheesecloth (double thickness) or a very fine sieve. Add the stock, onion, fish sauce, water, and spice bag to a saucepan and bring to boiling. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the spice bag. Slice the beef as thinly as possible and add to the saucepan, heat to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped mint, coriander, lime juice and green onions. Meanwhile, cook rice noodles for about 5 minutes in a separate pot of boiling salted water, until tender but firm, then drain. Add the noodles to 4 serving bowls and top with bean sprouts. Pour the hot beef mixture over noodles in the bowls and garnish with mint.

Flat Egg Noodles

Flat Egg Noodles
Flat Egg Noodles | Source

Flat Egg Noodles

Flat egg noodles are very popular in Thai dishes and they are very versatile. Be careful not to cook them to much when blanching.

Thai Beef Pho Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for stir frying (grape seed, rice bran peanut or sunflower oil)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • One handful of shiitake mushrooms, sliced, fresh or dried (if dried, allow to soften in hot water)
  • 1 cup broccoli, cut up into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup fresh bean spouts
  • 1-2 hot red chillies, sliced fine
  • 1 tablespoon green peppercorns
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger, minced or grated fine
  • 8-10 thin strips of real beef, marinated
  • 1 package flat egg noodles

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons fish sauce

Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Add oil to a wok and heat to medium-high. Fry the ginger, chillies, garlic, pounded peppercorns, and chillies in the wok for about one minute. Add a little broth if needed to stop the wok contents becoming too dry. Add the mushrooms and beef strips and stir fry until the beef almost cooked. Add the broccoli and sauce, frying briefly while stirring. Add the noodles, gently pulling them apart as they are dropped into the wok. Stir fry until the noodles soften (about 8 minutes). Add the bean sprouts and stir to heat through. Remove from heat. Add more fish sauce or soy sauce if required and serve immediately.

© 2013 Dr. John Anderson


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    Dil Vil 4 years ago from India

    The Noodles pics are absolutely amazing, looks so delicious. Thanks for the great share!