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Types Of Noodles

Just how many different types of noodles are there? You can break the options down by region; Italy, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and many others. Then there’s the type of cuisine these noodles are for; soups, salads, stand-alone noodle dishes, yakisoba, spaghetti…the list is practically endless.

What follows is not a comprehensive list of all known noodles from all over the world, but rather a list of the types you are likely to encounter in the United States whether at a restaurant or a grocery store.

Most, if not all the noodles listed below can be found in Asian grocery stores and American supermarkets with an “international” aisle.

And while it is true that you can purchase most of the noodles below via Amazon.com, we find the prices for certain foodstuffs including international ingredients to be greatly elevated compared to what you will find locally. When possible, it’s best to source these ingredients close to home.

Types Of Noodles

Types Of Noodles: Italy

Typically made from semolina and durum wheat flour, Italian noodles like spaghetti, fusilli, and rigatoni are made to be sturdy; they can be used in heavy cream sauces, bold tomato sauces, and even served as simply as the noodles boiled and coated in extra virgin olive oil and plenty of grated pecorino cheese.

There are lighter Italian noodles to choose from; angel hair pasta, for example, is great for a lighter touch or is often served on the side with meals like eggplant parmesan. Some Italian noodle dishes call for “al dente” preparation where the noodle is not fully soft all the way through.

Types Of Noodles: Spain

Some might not think of Spain when it comes to global noodle traditions, but this country has its own classic recipe using fideos, which are round thin noodles that you might find similar to angel hair pasta in some cases and closer to spaghetti in others.

This noodle is made from durum wheat, sometimes toasted in olive oil, and you may find Spanish recipes calling for this noodle to be softened not in a separate pot of boiling water, but right in the sauce instead. Unlike some Italian traditions, fideo is not meant to be eaten al dente (with the bite of what some Americans would label as slightly undercooked pasta).

Types Of Noodles: Germany

Spaetzle is a German egg noodle made with eggs, flour, salt, and water. Some believe that Spaetzle is a dumpling and not a noodle, but we include it here because the basic ingredients are similar and the way it is served mirrors other countries and their noodle-based cuisines.

Spaetzle is served in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and elsewhere. It is often used as a side dish for goulash or Rouladen, and there is a version of the dish that incorporates cheese–something you typically won’t find in Asian noodle dishes, though there are always exceptions.

Types Of Noodles: South Korea

There are many types of noodle common to Asian cultures, but each country puts its own unique spin on their noodles.

Consider the South Korean clear rice noodle found in the dish Japchae. Made from sweet potatoes, these noodles are served with vegetables and meat, and sometimes over a bed of rice. The rice and noodle pairing is new to many westerners, but it’s one you’ll get used to in a hurry if you enjoy the dish.

Another South Korean noodle option involves soba, a buckwheat noodle common in Japan and Korea. The texture of soba is a bit rougher than spaghetti and it has a unique taste that some westerns need a bit of time to get used to–but it’s worth the effort. Memil guksu is a traditional South Korean soup using soba. The noodles are paired with green onion, seaweed, eggs, and seafood stock.

Types of Noodles: Japan

Soba noodles, udon, and the all-time classic, ramen. These are NOT the only noodles from Japan but they are the ones you’ll see just about everywhere in the USA and abroad. Soba noodles are typically long, but not always straight. Japanese soba is made from buckwheat like the versions sold in South Korea.

In Japanese cuisine these noodles are used to make yakisoba which is literally translated as “fried noodles”. Yakisoba is made with a flavorful vegetable sauce you can make at home by experimenting with tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, some ketchup, and oyster sauce. The vegetables include shredded cabbage and carrot, meat, onion, and a bit of ginger.

Udon noodles are thicker and are typically used as soup noodles. They are quite sturdy and filling and Americans are sometimes surprised by the thickness of this noodle compared to Italian varieties.

Ramen noodles are everywhere in America, but in Japan a bowl of ramen is not just hot water and a few dried seasonings; ramen is an elaborate dish with many nuances from the bone broth it is often made with to the type of meat and other ingredients. There are pork ramen varieties, seafood ramen, and vegetarian options.

Shirataki noodles or miracle noodles are also worth mentioning due to their immense popularity. Shirataki noodles come from the root of the konjac plant and they are both paleo and keto-friendly because they contain no carbohydrates and have low to zero calories.

Types Of Noodles: Vietnam

Rice noodles are very popular in Vietnamese cooking, and one of the best-known, best loved of these dishes is Pho. There are many different types of rice noodle that can go into Pho from the square, flat Bánh Phở to the thin Vietnamese rice noodle called Bun, essentially rice vermicelli.

The Vietnamese have their own glass noodle variety and you will find a large number of dishes where the rice noodle is preferred over wheat. That’s not to say that the Vietnamese don’t ever use wheat-based noodles in their cooking, but the texture and flavor of the rice-based variety is hard to beat.

Types Of Noodles: Taiwan

There are two beloved noodle dishes from Taiwan that feature the same egg noodle ingredient.

Ta-a-mi and tshik-a-mi, as described by Michelin Guide, both contain “greased egg noodles” which are made in lye water. The two dishes that use these Taiwanese egg noodles are hearty soups that may contain medicinal herbs depending on who is doing the cooking.

Types Of Noodles: China

There are so many different varieties of Chinese noodle that we can’t list them all here. Lo mein noodles are the ones Americans are most familiar with, and there is a strong tradition of wide egg noodle dishes here, too. There are cultural nuances depending on the region; you’ll find Hong Kong style noodles, JiangXi Rice Noodles, and many others.

Chinese noodles also include Ho Fun Noodles, which are flat and white but add an interesting aesthetic to the cooking process as they tend to turn the color of the soy sauces used to prepare them.

Then there is the noodle type known as “Chinese spaghetti” or Zha ziang mian. These are the yellow noodles you may be familiar with from Asian grocery stores or take out restaurants. And there’s a type of thick wheat noodle called cumian, which are thick, chewy noodles made from wheat flour and water.

Noodle Recipes

Try these delicious and flavorful noodle recipes and go ahead and experiment with using different types of noodles!

Monique McArthur
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