Noodles are one of the most important parts of Chinese food culture and are quite popular in any country with a Chinese restaurant or a China town. Generally, Chinese noodles are divided into three types; rice noodles, wheat noodles, and glass noodles. Each of them is served either deep-fried, stir-fried, broth, or cold on hot, depending on your preference.
Even so, the supermarkets, Chinese restaurants, and street food vendors have a variety of noodles, which may be quite confusing when trying to find the best ones for your meal. Also, if you are following a recipe, you need to make sure you are using the right type of noodles to prevent them from backfiring.
That said, we have come up with a list of about five Chinese noodle types that you can choose from depending on your preferred manner of preparation or the specific recipe that you are following.
What are Chinese noodles made of?
The different types of Chinese noodles are made from either rice flour, mung bean starch, or wheat flour. Noodles made from wheat flour are popular in northern China, while rice noodles are more popular in Southern China. Other times, the Chinese add cereal, lye, or eggs to your noodles to add flavor and color to them. However, this depends on your overall preferences and the specific recipe that you are using. To change the texture and tenderness of the noodles’ strands, they choose to add egg whites, tapioca starch, or arrowroots to the flour mixture.
The dough used to make noodles from wheat flour has salt, water, wheat flour, and a few eggs, depending on the desired texture and taste of the noodles. Other starch or rice-based noodles, on the other hand, are made with only rice flour or starch and water. Once the pliable dough mass is formed, the noodles are produced by pulling, peeling, cutting, extruding, or kneading.
What are the types of Chinese noodles?
Here, we will look at the different types of noodles used to make delightful Chinese dishes. These are;
- Egg noodles
Egg noodles are the most common types of noodles that you will find in Chinese restaurants and street food vendors. They are called ‘chow mein’ and are considered the most versatile foods to cook. They are well renowned because they do not stick to the pan, and you can always add anything to them. These noodles have a deep yellow and a delightful flavor that comes from the addition of the eggs to the dough.
They also offer a broader spectrum of nutrition than other pasta types because they include a significant amount of essential amino acids and great amounts of protein. So, how do you make egg noodles?
To make egg noodles, you would need about 2 eggs depending on the number of people you seek you feed, 3 dry noodles packs, 1 or 2 green chilies, and onion, garlic paste, salt, chopped cilantro, and a little black paper for flavor. Once you have all the ingredients ready, heat your cooking pan with oil before adding garlic and onions. Allow it to cook then add salt, black pepper, and the noodles. Break the eggs into the pan and allow it to cook for about 4-5 minutes and garnish with cilantro.
- Rice Noodles
The second popular category of noodles is rice noodles which are made from rice starch. They have a springy texture, unlike the egg noodles, and they absorb the flavor of the broth and sauces that you choose to serve them with. You will mostly find them as an accompaniment for soups and stir-fries.
Also, they are a healthy alternative to yellow egg noodles and are versatile enough for use in all kinds of recipes. They are gluten-free as they do not have any wheat flour. So, if you have any gluten allergies, this type may be the best option for you.
- Ramen Noodles
Ramen noodles are the instant type of noodles that are made from various vegetable oils, wheat flour, and several flavors. These noodles are pre-cooked that is, they have been air dried or fried after steaming to shorten their overall cooking time. They are thin and are the best option if you are looking for a quick meal. Ramen noodles are treated with kansui, an alkaline ingredient that causes them to have a curly shape.
They provide a significant amount of iron, manganese, and vitamin B. While they have all these vitamins and minerals, they lack fibers and have a high amount of sodium content that may negatively affect your health. For this reason, you should avoid eating ramen noodles on a daily.
- Udon Noodles
The udon noodles are fatter and chewier than all the other noodles we have listed in this article. Their chewy texture gives them a bouncy effect in your mouth as you eat them. Udon noodles are sold when either fresh or dried. You can also find frozen ones, but this option is quite rare. When you add vegetable stock or meat broth to them, they become softer and easier to consume.
- Glass Noodles
Glass noodles, also known as cellophane noodles, are exclusively made from starch. The most common type under this category is mung bean noodles, which are made from sweet potato starch and tapioca starch. When making these noodles, the starch is isolated so that the noodles don’t have that starchy taste.
They are usually very thin and have a springy texture, and are the best accompaniment for stir-fries. You can also deep fry them if you are looking for a crispy option. They take about 3-6 minutes to cook, and when you boil them they have a glassy or transparent appearance, which is often aesthetically pleasing.
Unfortunately, these types of noodles tend to stick at the bottom of the pan, especially if you are boiling them. For this reason, you should always toss it with a small amount of oil to prevent the sticky effect. If you are cooking them in stock, add salt to the cooking water to prevent them from clumping together.
While Chinese noodles are primarily enjoyed within China and other countries with sizeable overseas Chinese populations, they are embraced by other East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea and Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand.