Noodles you can find everywhere these days. From cheap fast food like instant dishes which you can find in almost any supermarket, to chef’s specialties in trendy restaurants.
Noodle soups have become quite popular, not only in their home countries but all around the globe. Since it is clear that not all noodles are the same, and neither are noodle soups, it’s time to find out more about them.
One great thing about noodles is their sustainable nature. It takes very basic ingredients to make them, and most varieties are even vegan. With the right noodles as a basis for your meal or soup, it is easy to prepare a great vegetarian, or vegan treat.
Noodles come in a wide variety, originating from almost any region in Asia. Many of the best-known noodle soups are coming from China and Japan.
Chinese noodles are different from Japanese
Chinese noodles and Japanese noodles are both popular dishes around the world, but there are some distinct differences between the two. Chinese noodles tend to be thicker and chewier, while Japanese noodles – and Vietnamese too – are often thinner and more delicate.
Chinese noodles will usually have a stronger flavor than Japanese noodles. This is because Chinese noodles are often served with sauces and condiments that add more complexity to the overall dish. Japanese noodles, on the other hand, tend to be lighter in flavor and are usually served in a simple broth.
Some examples of well-known Chinese noodle soups are
- Wonton Noodle Soup: A savory soup made with pork and shrimp wontons in a clear broth.
- Lamian: Egg noodles served in a variety of broths, from spicy to mild.
- Dan Dan Noodles: Spicy Sichuan-style noodles topped with ground pork.
- Beef Noodle Soup: A hearty and flavorful soup with beef, noodles and vegetables.
On this tour, we have a look at the Japanese noodle soups ramen, soba, and udon, and at the Vietnamese noodle champion, pho.
The star of noodle soups: ramen
Ramen is the most famous and popular type of noodle soup. While it originated in Japan, it consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth. It is often flavored with soy sauce or miso and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, green onions, and sometimes corn.
The broth is usually made from chicken or pork, combined with a variety of ingredients such as bonito fish flakes, dried sardines, kelp, mushrooms, and vegetables. Ramen is typically served in a large bowl and can be eaten with chopsticks or a spoon.
Born in Vietnam: pho
Pho is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. The most common type of pho is beef pho, however, it can also be made with chicken or pork. The broth is usually made from beef or chicken bones simmered for several hours along with spices such as star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.
The noodles are usually flat rice noodles and vegetables such as onions, scallions, and cilantro are added for flavor. Pho is typically served with a side of bean sprouts, basil leaves, lime wedges, and hot chili peppers.
If you like them thick: udon
Another popular type of noodle soup that can be found around the world is Udon. Udon is a thick, wheat-based noodle that originated in Japan and is now popular throughout East Asia. Udon noodles are typically served with a flavorful broth made from dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sake.
Udon is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is often served hot with various toppings such as tempura, pork slices and green onions. Udon is also popularly eaten cold with dipping sauces or added to stir-fries. Udon is an excellent source of carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber and vitamins and minerals, making it a great choice for any meal.
Soba for buckwheat lovers
Another popular type of noodle soup that can be found around the world is Soba. Soba is a thin, buckwheat-based noodle that originated in Japan and is now enjoyed throughout East Asia. Soba noodles are typically served in a savory broth with ingredients such as mirin, soy sauce, sugar, sake and dashi. It is lighter on the carbs and calories than udon and is therefore considered a bit healthier choice.
Soba is a very versatile dish that can be served in many different ways. It can be enjoyed hot with various toppings such as tempura, seafood or vegetables, or cold with dipping sauces and pickles. Soba is an excellent source of carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber and vitamins and minerals, making it a great choice for any meal.
Because of its nutty taste, soba is favoured by many as a summer dish that perfectly combines with salads too.
When you start to taste your way around, you will quickly discover that there is much more to noodle soup than a small package and hot water. Still, also a fresh home made noodle soup can be easy and quick to prepare, or it can be a delicate dish that takes time and effort to prepare and enjoy. Once you get the taste, you most likely will forget about the instant. Because preparing too is a joy by itself.