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Noodles: Forget the Cup, We’ve Got Shelves of ‘Em

Noodles are key to many delicious dishes, but you might be surprised at the astonishing array of shapes, sizes, and flavors to choose from. While pasta is made from a dough of durum wheat and water, noodles are not tied to any particular grain and, as such, come with a variety of textures and cooking times. 

In this section, we’ll talk about the differences within the wide array of noodles that have captured hearts (and stomachs) globally. Whether you’re a seasoned food enthusiast, a curious soul seeking to broaden your culinary horizons, or someone searching for a taste of home, Mama Fang’s is here to help you on your journey to find the perfect noodles.

When choosing the right noodles for your dish, you want to ask yourself:

  1. What are they made of? For example, do they contain eggs or not? What kind of starch is used? Incorporating eggs or using buckwheat or rice flour instead of wheat flour will change the flavor and texture of the noodle.
  2. What kind of shape or texture are you looking for? Consider the length of the noodles and the shape. For example, are you looking for thin flat noodles or maybe something long and curly? These aspects can change cooking time or cooking method, so asking this question before picking will help you determine what you need to stock your pantry.
  3. Do you want fresh or dried noodles? These are the most common forms that you can purchase your noodles, and they will affect the time required to cook the noodles, as well as their shelf life in your home. Some people also say they taste the difference between fresh vs. dry, and that is a factor in their decision-making.

Now that we’ve reviewed the factors that can make some noodles taste different from others, let’s take a closer look at some specific types.

Noodle Types

  • Wheat Noodles: These noodles are all based from wheat flour, but the other ingredients that may or may not be present mean that these noodles can vary in size, texture, and taste. Some of the noodles that fall into this group include udon – thick, chewy, white noodles that are commonly enjoyed in hot soups or stir-fries – and somen – a thin noodle typically served cold. Some wheat-based noodles that contain egg are ramen noodles and lo mein noodles.
  • Rice Noodles: Like wheat noodles, these can come in a huge range of forms but the common thread is that they are all made from a mixture of rice flour and water. Because of this, most rice noodles cook very quickly and also have very little flavor, so they are a great ingredient to carry the flavors of bolder ingredients in your dish. Some commonly used rice noodles include flat thin rice noodles – a must for Pad Thai or pho – and vermicelli noodles – a very thin noodle typically found in spring rolls and salads.
  • Noodles Made From Other Starches: You can also make or buy noodles made from other flours and starches, which you can read more about here. This opens up the possibilities for more fun with noodles, and have given us noodles made from chickpea flour, buckwheat, starchy vegetables, and more. Some examples include soba – which are straight, brown noodles made from buckwheat flour – and harusame noodles – a thin, translucent noodle made from the starch of beans and tubers.
  • Egg Noodles: Another broad group, this category can overlap with the three mentioned above, but we wanted to call them out separately and talk a little about what adding egg into a noodle dough can do to make or break a dish. Most egg noodles you can purchase will be made from wheat flour and whole eggs or just yolks. Because of the eggs, these noodles will typically be a bit stickier and more flexible than their egg-less counterparts. The eggs also give the noodles a slightly yellow color. Ramen noodles are typically made with egg, as well as the addition of kansui, a mineral water which gives the noodles their characteristic yellow color. Lo mein noodles are another common egg noodle, and the thickness makes them perfect for stir-fries.

This just scratches the surface of the noodles, so stop by the market soon to learn more. We’re passionate about helping people learn and find the perfect ingredients for their next meal.

Have a favorite noodle dish? Share it with us!

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