In this 'almost' chilly weather, can you think of something will give the cosiness you need, satisfy your tummy and save your money? It is none other than a bowl full of noodles!
A true comfort food, noodles is the saviour dish for the broke and overworked people. This is why we hold it so close to our hearts and there are numerous varieties of it in the market. If you look through the list of different types of noodles, Asia will perhaps win by having the most interesting flavours.
However, not all Asian noodles taste the same. They originate in different countries, and their taste is deeply influenced by the particular culture of the area. Let us understand the difference between some of the popular Asian noodles.
Ramen, soba, udon, pho, glass noodles are all different down to their basics – their ingredients, technique of preparation, manner in which they are served, and of course, their taste. All five of them, however, are unique in their own ways and it is impossible to dismiss the lingering flavours they leave on your taste buds.
Ramen is probably the most sought-after noodles out there, and the comfort food of almost every midnight snack eater. Ramen is wheat-based, long, brown noodles served with broth and various other toppings.
The base of the broth is what gives ramen its reputation because different places do it in different ways: some of the common types are shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt-based) and miso.
The ramen bowl is usually served with pieces of chicken, beef, egg, boiled vegetable, and herbs. You can always add some extra toppings of anything, even butter and cheese.
Udon is a white coloured, thick noodles made by kneading wheat flour, salt, and water. They are thicker and more consistent compared to ramen, but served in a similar manner. The noodles have a light colour as well. The taste is quite bold so there is no need to add any additional ingredients. Its broth is called 'kakejiru' and is made of soy sauce, mirin and dashi. Many types of udon are often served in a clean and simple fashion with a normal broth. It is also served with a variety of toppings such as shredded scallions, tempura, fried tofu and more.
Soba noodles are a unique product for a couple of reasons. One, they are made with buckwheat flour in addition to wheat flour, which gives them a distinct flavour, texture, and light to dark brown colour.
And two, rather than being served hot, soba noodles are usually served cold, alongside a flavourful dipping sauce. Cold soba noodles, sometimes actually chilled with ice before serving, are a refreshing summertime dish in Japan.
Pho (pronounced "fuh") is a Vietnamese soup made with broth, rice noodles, and usually some form of sliced meat. A bowl of pho usually comes with a side of fresh herbs, lime and crunchy bean sprouts to top off the soup.
The origin of pho is a bit dubious. Some people believe that it was derived from the Mongolian Hot Pot, while others think the Vietnamese brought it over from China's Yunnan province, where they went to flee the French occupation.
Regardless of how it got to Vietnam, we know that this soup is a staple of Vietnamese cooking and a popular street food.
Finally, glass noodles or cellophane noodles are a broad category of noodles made from any other sort of starch other than wheat or rice. Mung bean noodles are quite common, as are noodles made from tapioca starch and sweet potato starch.
Despite their diverse origin, the process for making these noodles involves isolating the starches from these various sources, so that the noodles themselves do not taste of anything in particular.
These noodles are usually much thinner, almost threadlike, and are called glass or cellophane noodles because after they are boiled they take on a glassy, nearly transparent appearance.
Their texture is generally very springy, and they are often served stir-fried. Deep-frying makes them particularly crispy. Glass noodles also need to be soaked before cooking, except if you are going to deep-fry them.
And remember, glass noodles absorb the flavours of their cooking liquid, so if you are not cooking them in broth or stock, make sure to at least salt the cooking water.