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Pantry staples: noodles

Find out everything you need to know about rice and egg noodles

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Here's all you need to know about egg and rice noodles - and some great ways to use up any packets you may have at home.

In our  pantry staples series, we look at the ingredients that most people usually have in their presses – chickpeas, beans, noodles and the like. Today we’re looking at noodles, a type of unleavened dough that originated in China.

Noodles have been made from almost every sort of material imaginable: wheat, acorn, corn, mung bean, egg, rice, kelp and more. Primarily associated with Asian countries, noodles are also popular in European countries. These noodles have now evolved into the commonly-used types of pasta that we know today.

In Asia, noodles have been eaten since approximately the 3rd century: the first noodles were made from small bits of bread dough that were boiled in a wok. Nowadays, noodles are a staple food all over Asia, particularly in China, Japan and Vietnam. Often, noodles are made by street vendors who hand pull them to produce a silky, fine texture.

Vietnamese pho with rice noodles, image by Getty Images
Vietnamese pho with rice noodles, image by Getty Images
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Egg noodles

Particularly common in Chinese food, especially Cantonese cuisine, and Malaysian food, these noodles are yellow in colour, due to a mix of wheat flour and egg yolks. These noodles are often seen in stir-fries and fried noodle dishes. There are many different types of egg noodles, all made in different sizes and thicknesses, but most commonly in Ireland, we see thin egg noodles, which are sold fresh or dried. The two most common noodle types are called lo mein and chow mein, which are cylindrically shaped and about ¼ inch thick. To cook rice noodles, they need to be boiled for a few minutes. In Asian cuisine, they’re usually seen in fried noodle dishes but are commonly used for stir-fries in Ireland.

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Rice noodles

Similar to egg noodles, rice noodles come in a variety of colours and sizes and are found in lots of Southeast Asian countries, particularly in Vietnam. Rice noodles are particularly useful for their ability to absorb the flavours of the broths and sauces they’re served with.  Vermicelli noodles (bún) are thin, white strands that are seen everywhere in Hanoi. When buying vermicelli, make sure they are made from rice – vermicelli can also be made from mung beans. Another common type of noodles are known as rice sticks or bánh pho. These are most commonly used in pho, a chicken or beef-based Vietnamese noodle soup. Pad Thai is another dish that commonly uses rice noodles, which are often around ¼-inch thick. When cooked, rice noodles often clump together so loosen with a dash of sesame oil or stir into broth or sauce to separate.

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New recipe, who dis? Kimchi jjigae with pork belly, rice noodles, & egg yolk, adapted from the latest issue of @bonappetitmag. Instead of the traditional tofu I used sliced shiitakes, though this would have been great with tofu. Honestly, next time I could skip the pork belly entirely (heresy, I know) since I didn't think it added much and its texture gets weird in soup format. This soup was at its best with a raw egg yolk and a squeeze of lime  . . . . #TheNewHealthy #healthyish #bonappetit #bareaders #recipe #heresmyfood #eattheworld #glutenfree #kimchi #probiotic #koreanfood #jjigae #porkbelly #ricenoodles #noodles #inmykitchen #eeeeeats #buzzfeedfood #soupweather #fermentedfoods #guthealth #dceats #dcfoodie #edibledc #igdc #spoonfeed #f52grams #t1dlookslikeme #type1strong

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In terms of nutrition, noodles are pretty high in carbohydrates, making them a really great way to fill up. They’re low in fat, which is good news for anyone trying to be a little healthier. Rice noodles are usually gluten-free, meaning they are great for coeliacs, but always be sure to check the packaging to make sure. It’s great to keep a pack of them in your press as a ‘just in case’, so you always have something there to cater to everyone.

Looking for some inspiration? These three ideas are our top ways to use up dried noodles:

  • Pad Thai: A delicious Vietnamese dish, pad Thai is made with stir-fried rice noodles, tamarind, fish sauce, peanuts and lime wedges. Throw in some prawns or firm tofu for some extra protein.
  • Beef stew with noodles: A great way to lighten up a dish that you might normally have with rice or potatoes is to use noodles instead. Try serving this beef rendang with some noodles tossed in sesame oil to make it go a little further. 
  • Chicken noodle soup: There is nothing more comforting than a bowl of rich, chicken noodle soup. Keep the chicken carcass from your roast dinner and add it to a pot with water, carrots, celery, onion, star anise and a cinnamon stick and simmer for a few hours. Strain, add in leftover cooked chicken, rice noodles and heat through them serve.

Click here to see more noodle recipes.