Have you heard the saying that Ramen noodles really is the poster-food of college students? Maybe you remember your college days and more than a few days and nights of dining with a bowl of hot and tasty Ramen noodles. Did you prepare yours on a stovetop, in a microwave or in coffee pot? I’ve heard some wild stories over the years. However, if money was a bit tight it was one of just a few true budget-dining options.
Well you are all grown up now and can afford to dine on many other items, but do you still love noodles? Sure, you have probably heard about the MSG contained in the seasoning packet of the instant Ramen noodles, but have you tried the healthier organic version? How about the Ramen noodles that is not fried but baked? What about other varieties of noodles, do you have any favorites? If you do, then you will be able to relate very well to what I will share today.
I’m in the mood to make yet another confession. (It seems I’m now making a least one confession here per week.) I absolutely love noodles of all varieties! They have taken on a position in my life as a “comfort food." Noodles just make me happy. I’m not sure what is the little something about them that makes them so special, but they are. Maybe it’s the twirling, slight slurping and savoring the flavor of my noodles (because they absorb flavors so well is what makes them so enjoyable). I am most fond of noodle-based soups but enjoy salads with them as well.
History of Noodles Noodles have a long history in Asia; they're sold everywhere there and are the "fast food" equivalent of a hamburger or hot dog in the U.S. There are literally hundreds of ways to make and prepare Asian noodles. Most of them are easy to prepare, are filling, and come in healthy varieties. They're made from various flours, including wheat, rice, buckwheat, mung bean, and sweet potato starch, among others. Most Asian noodles in the U.S. are sold dried, but fresh noodles can be acquired where there are large Asian populations and ethnic grocery stores.
A few of the varieties are: Cellophane Noodles-They're also called glass or transparent noodles, bean threads or bean thread vermicelli. They're made from the starch of mung beans, are used a lot in Chinese and Southeast Asia cuisines. They're very thin, brittle, and are white or transparent. When softened, they look translucent are slippery, soft, and have a gelatin-like texture. These noodles themselves have very little taste, but they'll soak up the flavors of what's added to them. They don't require cooking; just soak them in hot tap water to cover until softened, just 15 minutes. For hot dishes, drain and start with the recipe. For cold dishes and salads, drain, rinse with cold water, rinse again, drain, and go on to the recipe. Be aware that different brands of cellophane noodles actual soaking times may vary.
Egg Noodles are widely used in Asia and have many different names: tamago somen-Japan, mien-China, hokkien mie-Malaysia and Singapore, and mee-Thailand and Indonesia. These noodles are available both fresh and dries, thick or thin. To cook these, boil in plenty of salted water until tender, about 4-5 minutes for dried, and 3-4 minutes for fresh. Sweet Potato Starch Glass Vermicelli-Very similar to cellophane noodles in appearance and texture. In addition, like cellophane, they have little flavor on their own, but are also great at absorbing flavors. Unlike cellophane, they're somewhat thicker and plump up better, have more substance, and absorb sauce better. To cook these, cover the noodles with boiling water and set aside to soften for 10 minutes. Drain, then rinse with cold water. Rinse again.
Ramen Noodles-These crinkly wheat flour noodles are sold both fresh and dried in just about any U.S. supermarket or grocery store. You can also buy dried packs of these in practically any dollar store (often 5 or more for $1.00). They come with the little packet of seasoning. Many people discard the seasoning pack, which contains MSG, and use their own seasoning, which is healthier.
Organic Ramen noodles are also available. They taste wonderful and the seasoning does not includeharmful MSG. You can safely enjoy Ramen noodles without sacrificing great flavor. Look for them in the health food section at your local supermarket.
When cooking these, boil the noodles for approximately 5 minutes. Take out a couple of strands and eat them, because that's the best way to tell if they're done to your satisfaction.
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 is 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 could 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, and 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-Another Japanese noodle that's also made of 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 three tasty noodle recipes: Chargrilled Wild Salmon with Oriental Noodles and Mango Salsa
4 x Pacific wild Salmon fillets, defrosted 2 -3 Tbsp vegetable oil 8oz pack babycorn and snow peas small red pepper, deseeded and sliced 2 -3 Tbsp dark soy sauce ½ lb medium egg noodles, cooked and drained ½ bunch salad onions, chopped medium mango, peeled and cut into bite size juice and zest of 2 limes 1 tsp coriander, chopped 1-2 red chilies, according to taste, deseeded and finely chopped
For the salmon: Preheat a griddle pan or grill to high. Brush the salmon fillets with oil and place flesh side down in the griddle. Press down lightly with a fish slice to sear. Cook for 5 minutes or until the fish lifts from the pan easily. Turn over and cook for a further 5 minutes. If grilling, place under the hot grill and cook as per pack instructions.
Meanwhile, heat a frying pan or wok and add the remaining oil, stir fry the babycorn, snow peas and pepper for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the soy sauce and noodles and continue to fry for 1 minute.
Add the spring onions and divide the noodles between 4 plates, place the salmon fillets on top.
To make the salsa, simply combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, and place a spoonful on the on top of the salmon. Serve with a wedge of lime. 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.