Uncover the secrets to making great noodles, from advice which has been handed down through generations. Christie is the creator of the pan-Asian recipe blog, Christie at Home. She shares recipes from around the world so you can make them at home. Learn more with her Tips for Success with Cooking Noodles.
From Malaysian to Korean and more, Christie shares interesting dishes that you may have never seen before! Her readers are encouraged to explore culture through food that may have originated from years of cooking traditions.
Through her travels and her cooking experience, you will discover popular street foods and learn from the extensive knowledge and experience she brings to her Asian recipes.
If you have ever perused the extensive variety of noodles in Asian supermarkets, it can be overwhelming and confusing. Yet at the same time, the opportunity to discover how to use some of these noodles is exciting.
What are some different types of noodles?
In Asian cuisine, there is a delicious variety of noodles that you can choose from thanks to the varying shapes and textures! The most popular noodles that most people are familiar with are: Udon noodles, ramen, egg noodles, soba noodles and vermicelli! However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this ingredient.
In China, there is a special noodle called Biang Biang noodles which are wide and flat in shape. They are hand pulled in a special way and then slapped against a working surface to make them chewy in texture. They are popularly served with Sichuan chili oil, like in my Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles, Spicy Peanut Noodles, or Garlic Chili Oil Noodles.
Another interesting noodle type that often does not get much attention are Korean Somyeon noodles. They are made of wheat flour and come in a very thin or thick chewy shape. The thin version is my personal favourite due to its springy texture. This noodle can be served cold, like in my Bibim Guksu or warm like in my Janchi Guksu recipe.
Finally, I must share about mung bean clear noodles! These are like rice vermicelli but are clear in colour and made of mung beans! They possess a thin texture and is often used in Chinese or South-East Asian cuisine! A dish that uses these types of noodle is my Thai Pad Woon Sen noodles!
What are your tips for success when cooking with noodles?
Cooking noodles can be easy; however, it must be done right as no one wants to eat soggy noodles. Below are some of my basic tips when cooking with noodles of different varieties.
- If the noodles are cooked but frozen (i.e., frozen udon noodles) and the recipe instructs to “boil” them prior to stir frying, only blanch them JUST until loosened (about 30 seconds) and strain immediately. The stir frying also adds cooking time to the noodles, which can result in overcooked noodles.
- Now if the noodles come dry, like rice vermicelli, and the recipe instructs to boil then fry, I instruct to only soak the noodles in hot (not boiling) water in a large bowl just until softened. About 5-7 minutes, then strain immediately. My Bihun Goreng noodles are an example of this technique. Boiling and then frying noodles can be a factor for soggy noodles especially if one is not watchful. It can also cause for softer noodles creating a sticky mess in the pan if it is not non-stick.
- Depending on the type of noodles, like wide rice noodles, sometimes they can remain Al Dente even if you cook them in the pan for more than 10+ minutes. Therefore, my tip is to add some water to help to steam the noodles to achieve a soft but chewy texture. I like to start by adding ¼ cup of water and adding more as needed, like in my Thai Drunken Noodles.
- If you are boiling noodles for a noodle soup dish, like my Wonton Mein, only blanch until loosened and strain immediately. Running the noodles under cold water also helps to keep them springy. Remember, they will be sitting in hot soup for a prolonged period, so we almost want them slightly undercooked to remain chewy.
- For any instant noodles, like my Quick Stir Fry Ramen, depending on the thickness of the ramen, I like to under boil them (1-2 minutes). Especially if it will sit in soup. I find these noodles only need a couple of minutes as they are so soft that they tend to go soft with any residual heat.
What are some tips for flavouring noodles?
There are many ways to flavour noodles, but I will share some quick and simple ways below:
- A simple way to season plain cooked noodles is by adding a dash of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and minced garlic.
- To season a simple noodle stir-fry, add 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, ½ tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp oyster sauce. Add more if needed depending on the quantity of noodles.
- To thicken a noodle sauce, simply add a cornstarch slurry (½ tbsp cornstarch and ½ cup water). This also helps the sauce stick to your noodles. This technique works best for thick noodles only, like my Garlic Shrimp Tofu Udon Noodles.
- Pouring a hot seasoned broth is a tasty way to have noodles. I like to season my broth with a bit of oyster sauce and sesame oil to easily take it to the next level.
- If you like spice, try seasoning your noodles with my homemade Chinese Chili Oil recipe.
- Love a soupy bowl of ramen? Sprinkle in some shredded cheese to make it extra rich or crack an egg into your boiling pot of noodles for protein.
- Add aromatics! Such as green onions or minced garlic when boiling or stir-frying noodles. They offer an incredible smell to your dish.
Any final advice?
- Practice really makes perfect when it comes to cooking noodles. Understanding each noodle type, its texture, how long it takes to cook and how it integrates with the other ingredients is something that requires thought and experience. It has taken me years to cook my noodles exactly right!
- For noodle stir fries, always cut your vegetable or protein ingredients in a long thin, slender shape. This helps the noodles integrate better with the rest of the ingredients.
- If you are a beginner cook, I would recommend cooking noodles in a non-stick wok or pan. Save that carbon steel or aluminum wok when you have gained enough experience to know how to use it properly.
- Do not be afraid to experiment with all types of noodles. I share a blog post called, “15 Popular Asian Noodles” that may inspire you to explore.
Christie is the creator of the pan-Asian recipe blog, “Christie at Home”. She shares recipes from around the world so you can make them at home. From Malaysian to Korean and more, Christie shares interesting dishes that you may have never seen before! Allowing her readers to explore culture through food that may originate from years of cooking traditions or popular street foods in Asia. Through her travels and her cooking experience, she brings that to her Asian recipes so that you can enjoy a taste of culture from home.
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