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Ingredients Used In Asian Cooking: Rice and Pasta

Updated on December 16, 2010

Two Main Ingredients and Food Items: Rice and Noodles

Rice and noodles make up much of Asian cooking, and are an important food source. Both rice and noodles can be eaten by alone, plain, without anything on them, or be part of an elaborate dish with many other ingredients. Here are some of the more popular rice and noodles used in Asian cooking.

Rice: Asian Staple Ingredient

Rice is a fundamental ingredient in Asian cooking, and also served on its own.

  • Basmati Rice
    Basmati rice is an aromatic rice, long-grain in size. When it cooks it stays separated and can be served cold in salads in other cuisines because of its unique nature of staying soft after chilling. It is used in many other cuisines besides Asian cuisines.
  • Jasmine Rice
    Jasmine rice is a white rice that is aromatic as well. It cooks similar to long grain rice.
  • Short Grain Rice
    This is the rice that is used in sushi rolls, and is sticky when cooked, and sticks together when pressed.
  • Medium Grain Rice
    This white rice is in the middle of short grain and long grain rice – it cooks up slightly sticky.
  • Long Grain Rice
    This is the one most commonly used for serving with entrees. The rice cooks up separate, and doesn't clump together after cooking the way medium and short grain rice does.
  • Brown rice
    Brown rice has the outer layer of bran still intact making more nutritious than other white rices, but also increases the cooking time.
  • Black Rice or Black Glutinous Rice
    Black sticky rice is a chewy rice when cooked, and creates a purple color when mixed and cooked with liquids such as coconut milk. It also requires a longer cooking time since it contains the bran still on the outside.

Asian Noodles: Many to Choose From

In Asian stores, you can find noodles made out of many things: rice, buckwheat, wheat and more. Each has its own style, color, flavor and texture. Choose from a variety of main ingredients when picking out an Asian noodle for dinner.

  • Rice Vermicelli Noodles
    These dried, white noodles can be found in many different packaging styles, in thick or thin forms. To use the very thin ones, just soak in warm water before tossing with the finished dish. They can also be deep fried in their dried form where they puff up, then served.
  • Soba Noodles
    The brown long noodles come from buckwheat and once cooked they have soft, chewy texture which are nice in recipes. They can be found fresh or dried, and served hot or cold.
  • Udon Noodles
    Udon noodles are wheat-based noodles, and are generally found in long, flat strip shapes.
  • Bean Thread Noodles
    This is also called 'vermicelli', and are thin white noodles. The packaging may label them as 'cellophane noodles' as they cook up clear. These noodles are actually made of mung beans. They are handled and cooked similar to rice vermicelli noodles: soak in warm water before using in recipes or deep fry them when they are uncooked where they puff up.


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