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Noodles are staples of Asian cuisine along with rice. Meals are incomplete without noodles in Asia and there are many ways and types of preparing noodles. Noodles are thin and elongated shape made from unleavened dough that is cooked in a boiling liquid, be it water or meat stock. The word noodle is derived from the German word ‘nudel’. There is evidence that the word noodle may also have it its origins in Latin since they use nodus(knot).

Noodles are a hot favorite the world over. Cooked in a variety of ways, noodles are popular both with kids and adults alike.

Origin of Noodles

A meal is simply not complete without noodles. There is lack of historical evidence to actually prove where noodles originated from. One thin that is clear is that flour and water are mixed to prepare noodles. The Arabs claim to have been the first to use dried pasta, as a means of preserving flour during their forays across the desert. The Chinese have been feasting on noodles for approximately 2000 years, since the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). In fact, some experts believe that the Italians got their first taste of pasta when Marco Polo returned home from his long trek across China with a host of exotic food items, including noodles.

Ingredients Prescribed by Noodles Recipes

Noodles are prepared using various ingredients that include wheat (Chūka men,Lamian. Mee pok, Nokedli. Pasta, Sōmen,Tészta, Udon and Erişte), Rice (Flat or thick rice noodles, Rice vermicelli: thin rice noodles, also known as mǐfěn and Idiyappam, an Indian rice noodle), Mungo Bean (cellophane noodles), potato or cana starch, buckwheat and acorn.

Popular Method of Preparation of Noodles

Many types of methods are available for preparing noodles. Some of them include –

· Basic boiling- the term essentially refers to the pasta boiled without any seasonings or other ingredients in water or any other cooking medium like broth. Other ingredients are added to these noodles for the preparation of various dishes.

· Chilling- boiled noodles are cooked with other ingredients and chilled later. A number of pasta salad dishes require the noodles to be chilled before serving.

· Frying- basic noodles are stir-fired with meat ,egg, vegetables, or seafood and a number of seasonings for making flavorful dishes. Some of these dishes may also require the noodles to fried in a little bit of oil prior to boiling them in the initial stage.

· Soup – this dish consists of a few strands of pasta cooked in a large quantity of broth The pasta in the watery dish is consumed along with the soup.

· Casserole- this dish is made by baking basic noodles along with meat, vegetables and seasonings in a casserole dish. Tuna pasta casserole, baked ziti, lasagna, pastitsio, kugel and timballo are different types of noodle casserole dishes.

Serving and Eating Noodle Dishes

While serving noodles, vegetable and meat curries first of all they provide eater with forks, chop-sticks and spoons. A variety of meat and/or fish dishes, plus vegetables, a noodle dish, and possibly also soup are served.

Types of Noodles

· Pasta – the term refers to a number of flour products usually cooked by boiling the unleavened flour dough made into different shapes. Pasta is mostly of Italian origin and is of two types, namely, the fresh and dry types. Fresh pasta has a very short life span and can be preserved for only a week or so under refrigeration whereas dry pasta can be prepserved for a couple of years without refrigeration. Sapghetti, gnocchi, maccherroni, fusili, spatzle, lasgna, ravioli and tortellini are all different types of pasta.

· Chinese noodles – these are similar to the western pasta though they differ from them in the ingredients used and the method of production. Basically, the noodles are produced in a few steps. A dough ismade of wheat, or rice which is processed in different ways for making noodles of different types. Cutting and extrusion are the methods usually employed for producing dry noodles. In the former method the dough is rolled out into a sheet from which strips of noodles are cut with a machine.In the latter method, the doguh is forceibly passed through a press resulting in its transpoframtion into strips of noodles. Fresh noodles are made by peeling, pulling or kneading the dough. They are then boiled in water to obtain the noodles.

· Cup noodles- these are quick and easy to prepare noodles which are ready for consumption in a jiffy. Dry noodles along with seasonings are packed in cups which are sold commercially. All one has to do is to add hot water to the container and wait ofr sometime. After a while, the noodles along with the seasonings are tenderized and are ready for consumption. Ramen noodles are very popular instant noodles.

· Frozen noodles – these noodles are cooked to almost completion and sold in that state. They need to be immersed in hot boiled water for just half to one minute for completing the cooking process. The noodles are then consumed with sauces and other accompaniments. These noodles differ in the seasonings and flavors used in cup and other forms of instant noodles.

· Instant noodle- These are commercially sold cooked noodles which are available in the dried form. These noodles are infused with oil and they need to be cooked for a period of 2-5 mins only. The noodles are sold along with seasonings called tastemakers. The Japanese Nissin Foods have carved an un-paralleled niche for themselves in the instant noodles market.

· Japanese noodles- these noodles are served chilled or hot according to the season with accopamaniments like a variety of sauces. Udon,shirataki, soba, somen, and himayugi are popluar noodles of this country.

· Korean noodles – alsorefered to as guksu or myeon locally, these noodles are mainly made of wheat or buckwheat. Naengmyeon, bibim guksu, kongguksu, and kalguksu are some of the popular Korean noodles.

· Philippine noodles (pancit) – also spelt as pansit, meaning a fast and conveniently cooked dish, in the local language, these noodles are of Chinese origin. Noodles are specifically eaten during occasions like birthday parties according to Chinese traditions.

· Shirataki noodles – They are, what many people would like to call, healthy noodles from the Japanese cuisine. They are low in bad fat and carbohydrates and are provide high dietary fiber. A special ingredient called glucomannan, is believed to control the levels of blood sugar and bad cholesterol in the human body and also help in losing weight. It is due to these health benefits that these noodles have found a palce for themselves in the international cuisines these days.

· Vietnamese noodles- They are of different types and a variety of dishes are made with these. Meat and vegetables are used in combination with the noodles. A number of dry and wet noodle main course and accompaniment dishes are made with these noodles. Vietnamese noodle soups are also a popular part of the Vietnamese meal. Banh hoi, Bun cha, Pho( soup), and Banh canh(soup) are some of the popular noodle dishes of this region.

Special Noodles and Noodle Dishes

· Deviled Eggs And Noodles – This dish is usually prepared in a microwave . The eggs are deviled and cooked with pre-cooked pasta and onion and spice seasonings in the microwave.

· Eggy Noodles – these are noodles cooked with a mixture of seasoned egg liquid, meat and vegetables. The egg mixtureis prepared by beating the liquids within the egg with salt and pepper. Vegetables and meat are preferably pre-cooked. The noodles and the other ingredients are poured on a pan and cooked till done.

· Vegetable Bean & Noodle Casserole - This is a complete meal dish. The dish can be made with different types of beans. One recipe calls for soyabean. Pre-cooked soyabeans and noodles are arranged in alternate layers in a casserole pan with a vegetable gravy on top. Tomatoes and other salad vegetables may be used for garnishing the dish. Cheese and flour are used as binding agents for the casserole which is baked in an oven till done.

· Noodle-Cheese-Vegetable Casserole – It consists of a casserole being made with precooked noodles and vegetables. Grated cheese is used as a topping for this casserole.

· Noodle Salad with Cheese – this dish is made with pre-cooked noodles, cheese, coffee crème, and dill pickles. Chives, lemon juice and mayonnaise help to enhance the flavors of the dish. Salt seasoning is added to the finally.

· Ricotta Cheese Noodles- this is a stir-fried dish made by stir-frying cooked noodles with a mixture of two or more varieties of cheese, such as ricotta and parmesan along with onion, salt and pepper seasonings.

· Soba Noodles with Grilled Tuna & Soy Ginger Sauce – Soba noodles are thin Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour. Cooked noodles are mixed with soy sauce and grilled tuna is placed on top of them. The dish is preferably served hot.

· Singapore Spicy Noodles- also known as Mee Goreng, this dish is made with a number of ingredients in combination with other ingredients like omelet and spices. The noodles are cooked with chilli sauce, chilli powder, tomato sauce, ginger and tofu. This flavorful noodle dish has influences of the Chinese and Indian cuisines. The dish seems to resemble Chop Suey of the American cuisine, when it comes to its origin.

· Glass-Noodle Salad With Chicken –This is Thai noodle accompaniment dish made with transparent noodles. Glass noodles are made of potoato or bean starch and they have earned the name owing to the fact that the noodles become transparent on being cooked. These noodles, also known as bean thread noodles or Chinese vermicelli, have also earned the name of cellophane noodles owing to their transparent appearance.

· Apples and Noodles –This is a crunchy and creamy, usually sweet dish, made by baqking apples and cooked noodles with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon.

· Triple Cheese Poppy seed Noodles – This dish is prepared by mixing cooked noodles with cheddar, ricotta and cottage cheeses. Soy sauce is used for seasoning the dish. A mixture of sesame seeds and paprika are used for topping the dish.

· Noodles with Ricotta and Walnuts – this is a delicious pasta dish preferably made with wheat pasta. A sauce of ricotta cheese and butter is poured over the pasta with a generous amount of walnut topping.

Variations of Noodles

Noodles may be thick or more watery. Noodles are even cooked in stews in various parts of the world. Noodles based dishes may vary as per the type (wheat, rice etc.), the gravy (plain water, meat stock etc) and seasonings. Vegetables and meats are also added to noodles and they are sometimes stir-fried too.

Health and Nutrition Facts Related to Noodles

The conventionally cooked noodles are far better health wise compared to the instant noodles. Most of the instant noodles offer no health benefits. Wheat flours are prepared without eggs and hence offer very little fat. Japanese soba is usually brownish gray in color, but sometimes you can find a green version. Buckwheat flour is rich in protein, making soba an excellent choice among vegetarians.

Famous Noodles

· Clay Pot Shrimp With Bean Thread Noodles – Also known as Goong Ope Maw, this Thai noodle dish is made by cooking the noodles along with a number of seafood sauces and shrimp in a clay pot or in a thick bottomed casserole dish. Herb sauces like cilantro pesto are added to the dish for imparting a delicious flavor to the dish.

· Chinese: Szechwan Noodles with Green Onions- It is prepared by cooking the noodles to al dente and then cooking it with seasonings like hot chili oil, rice vinegar and sugar. The dish is cooked with green onions and cilantro. One can also include BBQ pork in the dish if required.

· Crisp Fried Noodles and Chilli Vegetables – the preparation of this Chinese dish involves deep frying of the noodles in hot oil and then later combining it with other ingredients like soy sauce, red and green peppers, and sautéed golden brown onions.

· Oriental Noodles with Chilli and Cashews – This dish is made by coli and cooking the noodles with sauce and topping with chopped chili and cashew nut.

· Rumanian Fried Noodle Pudding -

· Sun-dried Tomato-Noodle Pudding

· Noodle Pudding

· SzechuanNoodles

· Individual Pot Roasts with Bouillon Noodles