Rice Noodles-They come in a variety of shapes and can be thick or thin. When dry, they’re quite brittle, becoming soft and slightly chewy when cooked. There are thin rice sticks/vermicelli-These are round, very thin, similar to angel hair pasta, but thinner and whiter in color. The wider, flat rice stick noodles are known as mi fen (Chinese), bun (Vietnamese), or mihun (Indonesian). These would be used for any pad Thai dishes. For stir-fries, cover both the thin and/or the bigger noodles with boiling water. Soak for 15 minutes. Drain.
To cook completely, place noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water. The thicker noodles should be soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes, then brought to a boil for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse or stir-fry until hot.
Soba Noodles-Japanese in origin and are thin, light brown, with a somewhat nutty flavor. They’re rich in fiber and protein, can be sold fresh or dried, plain or flavored, and can be served both hot and cold. Fast cooking, these noodles only need to be boiled for 4-5 minutes, 7 minutes tops. They’re best for hot and cold salads, and are traditionally used in cha soba, an Asian dish flavored with green tea, lemon zest, and black sesame seeds.
Somen Noodles-These are also of Japanese origin, and are usually made from fine wheat flour. They’re the thinnest of the Asian noodles and are sold in packages of individual bundles. To cook, simply separate and boil for 2-3 minutes. Somen can be eaten hot or cold. They’re best for soups and salads or can be served cold with a dipping sauce.
Udon Noodles-This is another Japanese noodle that’s also wheat flour, but unlike the others, water, rather than oil, is an ingredient. They are flat and wide or round, and have a slippery texture. They’re a bit chewier than somen, and need to be cooked longer: 10-12 minutes for dried noodles in boiling salted water. For fresh, 2-3 min. They’re best for soups, stews, stir-fries, casseroles, or just served with dipping broth.
Here are two noodle recipes:
Vegetarian Pad Thai
(Pad Thai is a favorite one-dish meal that’s eaten by the Thais at any time of the day. It’s sold everywhere in their country (Thailand) and there are many variations of it.)
1/4 cup corn oil, divided
2 eggs. lightly beaten
1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
6 garlic cloves. minced
1/3 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 pkg. (16 oz.) rice noodles, cooked according to pkg. directions (or your sense of when it’s done)
1 cup bean sprouts
3 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup each chopped fresh cilantro and peanuts
In a skillet over medium heat, cook egg in 2 Tbs. hot oil until set. Roll up and slice. Cook next three ingredients in remaining 2 Tbs. oil for 4 min. Combine next 3 ingredients; toss with noodles. Top with vegetables and egg; garnish with the remaining ingredients.
Total time: about 25 min., give or take
Calories: 345 per serving
Should serve 8
Thai Noodles In Peanut Sauce
1/2 lb. cellophane noodles or linguini
1/4 cup Thai peanut satay sauce, like “Thai Kitchen“
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
In large saucepot, bring 3 quarts salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to pkg. directions. Drain well. In a bowl, toss cooked noodles with peanut sauce and lime juice. Stir in chopped cilantro and sliced radishes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill. Serve garnished with cilantro sprigs and crushed roasted peanuts, if desired.
Total time: 15 min., give or take
Calories: 250 per serving
Should serve 4