Asian cuisine is well known for its use of noodles, but you may be surprised by just how many different options exist. From vegetable variations to creative ingredients, from soups to salads to stir-fries, we’re exploring all the different ways you can play around with this endlessly versatile base.
First things first, let’s introduce some of the most popular noodle varieties.
Mung bean noodles
Also called “glass noodles” or “cellophane noodles,” these tasty transparent strands originated from China, although variations made from other types of starches are popular across India, Southeast Asia, and Polynesia.
Mung bean noodles have a springy, chewy texture, which means they work well in soups, stir-fries, and spring rolls. And of all the noodle varieties, this one is pretty dang healthy; They’re naturally vegan, gluten-free, high iron, and low fat!
People love the humble potato in all its forms: baked, fried, mashed, the list goes on. But what about potato noodles? These thick sauce soakers are the ultimate comfort food: hearty, bouncy, and with a super satisfying mouthfeel.
They’re right at home in hot pot and stir-fries, or any dish that will provide them with a flavorful coating to absorb.
Rice noodles are prolific across China and Southeast Asia, used in any number of iconic dishes, from pho to pad thai to Malaysian laksa. As the name suggests, they’re made from primarily rice flour and water, with a little tapioca starch to give them extra bounce.
This staple can take on all kinds of shapes–flat, round, thick, thin. The one thing they all have in common? Complete deliciousness.
Hailing from Japan and made of buckwheat, soba noodles are notoriously tasty, with a naturally nutty, earthy flavor that complements salads, soups, and dips alike.
This noodle has some serious range. You’ll find soba in fast-food chains and upscale restaurants alike. Plus, they can be served at any temperature! Traditionally, summer brings chilled noodles dipped in a side sauce, while winter is the time to enjoy steaming, soba-filled soups and broths.
There seems to be unlimited inspiration when it comes to converting vegetables into noodles, and it’s far from a passing trend.
Home cooks have turned their spiralizers on zucchinis, cucumbers, carrots, beets, and more. Almost any firm-fleshed vegetable works well, and these fun variations provide excellent nutrition plus a playful pop of color!
Ultra-thin and slurpable, vermicelli noodles make an excellent base for bowls, soups, or salads.
They’re sometimes confused with mung bean noodles for their similar thinness and texture. And although vermicelli noodles also came from China, the difference is that they’re made from rice grains–not starch.
Plenty of countries, including Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, and Indonesia, have deeply adopted vermicelli into their own cuisines.
Yet another variety from Japan, udon is made from wheat flour. These noodles are traditionally found in both hot soups and chilled salads, as well as served solo alongside dipping sauces.
While nearby countries like Korea and the Philippines have taken inspiration from udon, the noodle’s tie to Japan is super strong, with different prefectures boasting their own unique takes on udon dishes.
Now, let’s get cooking! Check out the recipes below for all your noodle inspiration needs.
In this dish, soba noodles get packed with all kinds of Asian goodness–hoisin sauce, spicy garlic shrimp, and fresh veggies galore. Prepare to feel the heat, although it’s beautifully balanced out by a garnish of fresh cilantro and lime.
One of the world’s most famous noodle dishes needs no introduction; this soup is unphogettable. But a playful twist and sneaky extra serving of veg make this particular recipe even more delicious than usual. Get out the bone broth, flavorful base, and zucchini… it’s zoodle time, baby!
Although they may seem more at home in soup at first glance, noodles make a mean salad base, too. When paired with hoisin-glazed, thin-sliced steak and a Sriracha-driven sauce, the result is oh-so-spicy, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. And since we’re using rice noodles here, they soak all those flavors right up.
Bring on the udon! These thick Japanese noodles make the perfect base for heaps of fresh veggies (think edamame, bell peppers, and sweet onion) and a tantalizing sweet + spicy ginger hoisin sauce.
In this stir-fry dish, we’re keeping rice noodles simple but satisfying, mixed in with green cabbage, eggs, garlic, chili, and hoisin sauce. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, and everything comes together in just 30 minutes…it doesn’t get much easier than that!
This uber-popular, 30-minute recipe is everything you could ask for: healthy, easy to make, delightfully flavorful, and a gorgeous splash of color on any plate. Carrots take on the noodle role this time, reinvented with the help of hoisin sauce, orange juice, fresh ginger, and sesame.
These Szechuan Beef Noodles pack a punch in every bite. The protein is speedily stir-fried to achieve a beautiful browned finish, and the veggies cook up in the same pan for extra flavor infusion. Pair all that with thick, bouncy potato noodles and we have a real winner of a dish on our hands.
Light, refreshing, and tossed together in just 30 minutes, this noodle bowl makes for a lovely warm-weather lunch or dinner. A bed of vermicelli is laid with fresh veggie slices, succulent grilled shrimp, and a gorgeous garnish of fresh Thai basil leaves and lime. Double down with two delicious side sauces to dip or drizzle–your choice!
Got some leftover cha siu lying around? Put it to good use in this fabulous soup, overflowing with fragrant oils, punchy spices, and tender meats. Mung bean noodles are the star of this dish, providing an extra boost of protein and other nutrients.