Asian Noodle Recipes
Every country across the Pacific boasts its own slurpable speciality. Here, we decode some favorites for your surefire success.
As the street-food craze spreads across America, more folks are learning the pure fun of chopsticking into a bowl of noodles. Asian noodles—made from rice, wheat and egg, or buckwheat—are a world apart from Italian pasta, usually chewier, more resilient. Our noodle bowls are based on both street fare and homey comfort classics, with a nutrition tweak. We lowered the sodium (soy, fish, and hoisin sauces pack a lot of salt) while keeping true to the soul of each dish: all those spicy, salty, sweet, sour, and slurptastic thrills.
This dish is most popular in the summer but delicious year-round. Korean naengmyun noodles are made from wheat and buckwheat and are wonderfully chewy; Japanese soba is an adequate substitute but lacks the chewy texture. Because of the noodles' firm texture, the dish comes to the table with scissors, and you are to snip a few times and then mix everything together after enjoying the initial presentation.
Here's a Chinese comfort-food favorite. A quick, healthy version of char siu pork amps up pork tenderloin with a marinade of sweet-salty hoisin sauce and aromatic five-spice powder—slivers of this meat meld with meaty wood ear mushrooms among chewy noodles bathed in a salty-sweet sauce. If you can't find wide lo mein noodles, try fettuccine.
This easy dish is an Indonesian street-food noodle classic, and it depends on two things: serving it piping hot, right out of a very hot wok, and finding some kecap manis (pronounced KEH-chup MAH-nees), a molasses-thick sweet soy sauce. Most Asian food stores sell it (usually ABC brand). If you can't find dried Chinese egg noodles, spaghetti actually makes a good substitute.
The national dish of Thailand, simple to make and delicious to eat. You'll find many inauthentic versions in the U.S., some that even use ketchup or are otherwise too sweet. There should be some sweetness to the dish, but it should be balanced by tangy, savory flavors.
An absolute classic, with wonderful contrasts: cold noodles, hot shrimp; chewy noodles, crisp veggies. You can prep the ingredients in advance and bring it all together right before serving. Shrimp is traditionally grilled for this dish, but searing it yields delicious results, too, without as much fuss as firing up the outdoor grill.