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What's Cooking?: Asian Noodles
The main food staple in my family is rice. I cook it almost every night. However, if there is a choice between having rice or noodles. Noodles win hands down. I love eating noodles. Many countries have their own special noodles but I must admit I am partial to Asian noodles so this will be my focus today. Many of you may have eaten the long thin Chinese noodles that are usually stir-fried with meats and vegetables known as lo mein in restaurants and of course, the packaged ramen noodles but are you familiar with rice vermicelli, or rice noodles in their various sizes in width and thickness, or the Japanese udon and somen in noodle soups, or the sweet potato noodles used in making the Korean dish Japchae or the glass (cellophane) noodles made of mung beans? Not only are there so many types of noodles to enjoy, there are so many ways to prepare them. Depending on the characteristics of the particular noodle, they can be stir-fried, deep-fried, pan-fried served with meat sauce over it, used as noodle salads, and in noodle soups. The list seems endless.
I especially like noodle soups where the noodles are gently submerged in a rich hot broth with pieces of cooked meats like roast pork, duck, shrimp or wonton dumplings and leafy green vegetables. There are various forms of noodle soup in Asian countries. The Vietnamese have their pho which is rice vermicelli in a soup with sliced chili peppers, cilantro, scallions and lime wedges with your choice of meat. Delicious! The Japanese have their udon noodles in a miso broth with tofu, mushrooms and diverse selection of seafood. Want something spicy? Try laksa from Malaysia which is a dish of medium wide rice noodles in a slightly creamy broth made with coconut milk, curry and hot chili spices. Be warned! Keep a glass of cold water by your side. As for stir fried noodles, one of my favorites is Singapore Rice Vermicelli. Yes, that is the name of the dish when you order it. It has curry as its essential spice stir-fried with shrimp, sliced roast pork, scallions, bean sprouts, onions, red and green peppers.
I have to stop here because I can go on and on describing these dishes and I'm also getting hungry just imagining the array of noodle dishes swimming in my head. Hope you will seek out the following books that have noodle recipes and be enticed to create one of these satisfying and exotic dishes.
Takashi's Noodles by Takashi Yagihashi
Noodles Every Day by Corinne Trang
Martin Yan Quick & Easy by Martin Yan
Big Bowl Noodles and Rice by Bruce Cost
Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland
Asian Noodles by Nina Simond