Whether you steam them or stir fry them, whether you make a simple soup or prepare an exotic dish with them, noodles lend a unique flavor to your meal. While there has been a raging dispute on who invented the noodles first, the recent discovery of a pot of noodles nearly 4000 years old in China, seems to settle the controversy. Looks like the Chinese have won hands down in this discovery race between the Chinese, Arabs and Italians. The Chinese invented the noodles, embraced it and exported it to the world.
Types of Noodles
A noodles is basically a thin strip of pasta, usually cut or extruded from some kind of dough. Chinese Noodles cook faster than other forms of pasta - typically about 1 - 4 minutes to attain al dente stage. There are three basic types of Chinese noodles - wheat flour noodles, rice noodles and cellophane noodles, noodles made from ground mung bean paste and a number of sub categories, each belonging to different Asian countries.
Wheat noodles are made with wheat flour, salt and water. Eggs are also added to them sometimes. The Chinese are very fond of wheat noodles and they prefer them long and slippery. Wheat based noodles are used in soup preparations and stir fried dishes. In fact, Chow mein, one of the most famous Chinese dishes is prepared with wheat and egg noodles. You can cook the noodles thoroughly to make them really soft.
Alternatively, you can cook them al dente till they are just firm. As in all Chinese food, it is essential that you preserve the texture, color and natural aroma in the ingredients you use. This is one of the reasons why many Chinese recipes call for stir frying.
You will find more articles on the finest in Asian cooking in our collection of recipes. You need to rinse the noodles with cold water and later toss them with oil to prevent them from sticking together. Dried varieties of noodles have a longer shelf life when compared to the fresh noodles, which can be preserved only for a couple of days.
Chinese wheat starch noodles are the ones used in soup preparations. They are comparatively delicate and are available fresh, dried and frozen. They also come in a variety of sizes and it is best to boil the noodles before using them. Yi noodles also called yi mien are flat Chinese noodles with eggs and are formed into round patties and fried before drying them.
Lo mein noodles are yet another popular egg based noodles which are stir fried. They are available in various sizes and shapes, with the flat ones being used in stir fries and round ones used in soups. Ramen noodles are Japanese noodles and are used in soups and salads. These noodles are fried in oil and then dried. They are available in rectangular bricks and can cook easily in 2-3 minutes.
Rice noodles are made of rice flour and water and are comparatively popular is the Southeast Asian region. They should also be soaked in hot water before using them in any of the dishes. The laksa noodles which look like white spaghetti are used in preparing laksa, a famous dish in Indonesia and Malaysia. Lai fen, another type of rice noodles is also popular in Southeast Asia.
Wide lai fen can be used for stir fries while the thinner ones can be used in soups. They should also be soaked in hot water until they become soft. Rice flake noodles are big, flat noodles which resemble tortilla chips and can be used in soups and stir fries. Rice vermicelli can be used in soups, spring rolls, salads and stir fries. The noodles can also be deep fried until crunchy and used in chicken salad. Thai rice sticks are similar to bean threads and made of rice flour.
Ramen is a dish containing noodles and broth. There are a variety of ramen but the basic ingredients are the same - flour, water, salt, dough conditioner and seasonings. Though this dish originated in China, it is now very famous in Japan. Instant ramen can be prepared by adding boiling water and does not get spoiled. Hence it is a favorite with travelers. As it can be purchased at a very low price, ramen is the favorite food amongst university students and people living on a tight budget.
Instant noodles are pre cooked with oil and then dried and packed. They can be eaten by cooking them in boiling water and by adding flavor packets. You can also pick up Cup Noodles, where you don’t even need any cooking pan. You just need a cup of hot water to make the noodles and a fork (supplied with the packet some times) to eat it.
Irrespective of the type of noodle you use or the way you cook it, any dish with noodles is a sure to be slurped up by adults can children alike. The best part is that dishes made with noodles can be prepared in minimal time and are a veritable boon during rush hour.
Salmon Ramen in Fresh Vegetables
Take a couple of packets of ramen noodles. Heat a tbsp of butter and sauté finely chopped onions for 2 minutes. Add milk, cream cheese and a flavor packet and cook them till the consistency is smooth. Add salmon (drained and broken in to chunks), zucchini and carrots (the vegetable need to be cut into thin strips) and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Cook the noodles with the remaining flavor packet separately. Add the noodles to the salmon mixture. Toss gently and add your favorite sauce and serve immediately for instant appreciation.
Ramen Spinach Salad
Cook the noodles (preferably Chicken flavor) without adding the flavor packets. Drain them and let it cool. Cut the noodles in to medium length and add spinach leaves, pre cooked and diced chicken pieces, halved red grapes, slivered red pepper, crumbled blue cheese and chopped cashews. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
Keep separate. Mix the flavor packets with garlic and lemon juice and keep it aside for 15 minutes. Add oil and mayonnaise and make it into a smooth paste. Pour this dressing over the salad and toss it. Garnish with red pepper rings. This salad is sure to be a great hit with your family and friends.