Noodles are our focus product from the grocery shelves this month and with so many to choose from we thought a 101 on noodles may be a good idea to give you some better ideas and confidence on using different styles.
Wheat based noodles come in many different sizes and colours from stark white to yellow. Yellow doesn’t necessarily mean egg has been added so do always check the ingredient list. Wheat flour is very cheap and staple and can be used to make wonderful thick round noodles that you may see if you where eating in Shanghai through to a hand pulled finer noodle that you may get in the Sichuan region or China. In Taipei a classic stewed beef noodle dish has a flatter and thinner wheat based noodle and in Japan ramen noodles are made from wheat but with the addition of sodium and potassium carbonate to give it the bite that is needed and body to withstand a high heat stock. Udon noodles are again made from wheat and acquire their density from a dough kneading process that traditionally used feet.
Different flours certainly create a different product so soba noodles are a more well known noodle these days and made using buckwheat flour. Not all soba are created equally and can have the addition of wheat flour which traditionally come from Nagano in Japan and are called Shinshu soba where two eights of wheat flour are used. They are generally a lot lighter in colour than true full buckwheat which is known as Juwari being 100% buckwheat . As a gluten free grain, buckwheat is referred to as a pseudo-cereal as it comes from a flowering plant more closely related to rhubarb than wheat . Amazingly good for you it stand up well to being used in cold salads or in hot soups.
Cha soba is made using wheat flour, a little buckwheat and powdered green tea more for appearance than taste but are a beautiful addition to a dish due to that vibrant colour.
Rice noodles are a major export of Vietnam and the South of Asia. The very old and not much altered tradition of making rice noodles and rice paper can be altered with the addition of other gluten free starches such as tapioca and corn. They may help to create better elasticity, whiter colour or a chewier texture. Perfect for anyone on a gluten free diet, they need little preparation and will sit happily cooked and oiled to avoid them sticking together until needed. Some cheaper rice noodles have a strong and not so delicious taste to them that comes from the drying process and often is refereed to as the taste of hessian sacking. It can be overwhelming in your bright and zesty pad Thai or pho so always buy a brand you know and trust.
Vermicelli is made from mung bean starch and may also have the addition of other gluten free starches such as pea and corn. Again the gluten free nature of vermicelli makes it useful along with its total ease of cooking. Soaking to soften means no cooking at all so a great mid week meal ingredient after a long hot day. Being so low in taste itself , vermicelli and rice noodles are perfect vehicles for taste.
Farro carries a wide range of both dried and fresh noodles and we are always on the look over for new additions. Over March we will have some delicious Asian recipes to inspire you to try something new.