01 of 09
For the most part, kids love noodles of all kinds, but there might be some you haven’t tried, especially when you are exploring Asian cuisines at home. Noodle dishes are a great way to dig into to new cuisines with your family, since everyone tends to like them, and they are so flexible.
Are all noodles alike? Nope. While it’s true that you can use Italian wheat noodles in many Asian recipes that call for Asian-style wheat noodles, there is still a difference in taste and texture, subtle though it may be, as different kinds of wheat are used, and other ingredients might be added.
It’s fun to seek out the Asian versions of the dried noodles, which are now much more readily available in well-stocked supermarkets, and certainly online (see links within each of the noodle types). Substitutions from the regular Italian pasta aisle are also offered, and if you can’t find the Asian versions you should definitely not let that stop you from trying new recipes.
02 of 09
Rice noodles are made from rice flour instead of wheat flour, used throughout Eastern and Southeast Asian cuisine. They have a texture that is slightly springy and chewy, and a very delicate flavor that takes well to all kinds of sauces and seasonings (much like wheat noodles are so versatile). They cook very quickly, and the thinner the noodle, the more quickly it cooks, so you need to pay attention so they don’t fall apart. Rice noodles are almost always naturally gluten-free.
Rice noodles are usually long and thin, and range in thickness from fettuccine-like strands to vermicelli or angel hair thinness. They also come in sheets, which are soaked and used in dishes like Vietnamese summer rolls.
You should follow the directions in the recipe or on the package, but here are the two most basic ways to cook rice noodles:
1) Soaking them in slightly warm water. This only partially cooks them, softening them so they can be added to soups and stir-fries, and then finish cooking in the dish itself.
2) Submerging them in boiling water. This will cook them quickly, and as soon as they are soft they should be drained and either added to the cooked dish, or, if they are going to be used in a cold dish such as a salad, rinsed in cold water to stop the cooking. They can be soaked in warm water before finishing them in boiling water to better control the cooking.
03 of 09
Rice Sticks or Pad Thai Rice Noodles
These come in different thicknesses or widths, but they are usually comparable to fettuccine in shape, often about 10-inches long. Obviously perfect for the famous Pad Thai, the national dish of Thailand, these wider flat noodles are also good for all kinds of Asian stir fries, savory noodle soups, and chilled noodle salads.
Try pad thai noodles in:
Fork-In-The-Road Pad Thai
Spicy Thai Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup
04 of 09
Also known as rice noodles, these super skinny rice noodles are widely used throughout the Asian culinary world. The noodles are featured in dishes like curried noodles, stir fried noodles or Vietnamese pho, and chilled they fill spring rolls and are tossed with dressing and vegetables in salads. They are usually long and round in diameter, folded in half in the package. The white rice flour version looks a bit similar to cellophane noodles, which are an Asian type of vermicelli made from mung bean starch instead of rice flour.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Brown Rice Noodles
Some rice noodles also come in brown rice versions which are made from the flour of whole grain brown rice.
Try rice brown rice vermicelli in:
Easy Brown Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms
Thai Rice Noodle Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette
06 of 09
While there are lots of types of Asian wheat noodles, udon is probably my family’s very favorite noodle. They are a thick wheat-flour Japanese-style noodle, often in hearty soups, and have a velvety, springy and voluptuous texture. They are also used frequently in cold noodle dishes.
07 of 09
Lo Mein Noodles
Lo mein noodles are another popular kind of Chinese wheat noodle to look out for. These can be used in stir fries, or cooked and then tossed with a sauce, or used in a soup.
Try lo mein noodles in:
Chicken Lo Mein Stir-fry Recipe
Vegan Lo Mein Noodles with Bok Choy and Tofu
Shrimp Lo Mein With Three Vegetables
Beef Lo Mein
08 of 09
Soba (Buckwheat) Noodles
These thin, firm (even when cooked) buckwheat Japanese noodles are very versatile and can be served either cold or hot in soup, salads, with dipping sauces, and in other dishes. Because of the buckwheat, which is blended with other wheats, they are high in protein, with a nutty flavor. They usually come in bunches, and look much like whole wheat spaghetti. They are eaten on New Year’s as a symbol of longevity.
Try soba in:Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Looking for more information about Asian ingredients you will love in your pantry?
Check out Asian Ingredients for the Pantry!