Chinese food,  Main dishes

Ideas & inspiration for your own delicious noodles!

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soba noodles with crispy tofu and sate

Noodles, I can’t get enough of them! In any shape or form. I probably could fill a whole website just on them. But, let’s not get carried away, and stick to one general noodle-post to share ideas. Of course all vegan.

What about all these different type of noodles?

First thing to keep in mind while shopping. Not all noodles are vegan. Especially a lot of the Chinese ones are not vegan, like the egg-noodles. When you go to a Chinese restaurant, most noodle dishes will be made with this variety. So make sure it is well specified, or check with the waiting staff or kitchen.

But the good news is, … Many noodles are vegan! Even when you travel in China, where you will find many varieties of local noodles throughout the country. Unfortunately we can not always find these delicious local style noodles in Western countries.

The ones that are reasonable easy to find, and most likely are vegan (always check the package for egg and Lecithin) are the following;

  • Soba; Soba is the Japanse name for buckwheat. These noodles are 100% buckwheat flour, or sometimes mixed with other wheat flours. Mostly used in noodle-soups, but in Japan also enjoyed as a cold dish (drained).
  • Rice; Most common noodle in East & S-E Asia. Made from rice and water, sometimes cornstarch or tapioca is used. You can find them very thin (vermicelli), flat thick and round thick.
  • Udon; A thick wheat flour noodle from Japan. In the winters these noodles are eaten hot, in a soup style dish. And in summer they can be eaten cold (being drained).
  • Korean; Most Korean noodles are vegan, they can be made from, buckwheat, sweet potato starch, dried corn flour, rice flour, glutinous rice flour and wheat flour. The variety of dishes is enormous.
  • Ramen; a Japanese adaption of Chinese wheat noodles. Most often eaten in a soup style. Even though Ramen noodles themselves are vegan, Instant ramen are not always vegan. Check the packaging for eggs, milk, and E-numbers which are not vegan (like E627, E631, which might not be vegan).
  • Nowadays there are many special vegan brands for noodles.

The endless varieties of Noodle dishes.

This is what I love so much about noodles. No need for special shopping trips, just use whatever you have left in your fridge. As long as you have the basic ingredients in the house.

The bare basics for a tasty noodle dish are for me; Ginger, garlic, chilli and soy. Preferably with sesame oil and spring onion (scallions).

If you like noodle soups as much as I do; Make sure you always have a good vegetable stock at hand. I make very regularly vegetable stocks often with the offcuts from vegetables. I keep the stock (or I should say broth) for a few days (3-4) in the fridge, and if I haven’t used it all it gets transferred to the freezer.

Check out my basic vegetable stock recipe.

So, those are the basics, but here are some ideas on what to use in your noodle dishes;

Strong flavours to start with;
Garlic / Ginger / Galanga / lemongrass / kaffir lime zest or leave / chilli / crushed coriander seeds /onions or shallots.
*I almost always just use lots of ginger and garlic, which are both easy to find.

Vegetable to use;
Bell pepper / broccoli / cauliflower / Bok choy / leek / fennel / green leaves (spinach, kale) / courgette / mushrooms / tofu / lotus root / or really any other vegetable that you can come up with. There are no rules!
It is nice to keep your veggies still crunchy, so just stir-fry them, or shortly pre-steam (which works well with broccoli/cauliflower/carrot)

Liquids for flavouring / seasoning;
Soy sauce (sweet or spicy)  / Ketjap / tamari / Chinese vinegar or sherry vinegar / lime juice or lemon juice  / sesame paste (tahini) / miso paste / chilli paste / liquid of soaked mushrooms
*maybe you can get lots more goodies where you live, my local choices are minimal, but good enough.

Herbs (coriander / chives / parsley etc) / seeds (sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds, or any other) / toasted sesame seeds / toasted almonds (or other nuts) / spring onion / fried onions

Extra ideas;

  • Make a great sate sauce / peanut sauce to go with your noodles, recipe
  • Experiment with dry and soggy / wet noodles (soup) , which are very common in Asia. If you make wet noodles use a very good flavoursome stock. For a home made vegetable stock check out this recipe.
  • Keep ‘textures’ in mind. It is always good to have different textures on one plate. Make sure you have somewhere a nice little crunch 😉
  • You can choose to mix your noodles with the veggies and spices. Or keep them separate. Sometimes I like to keep everything separate to keep the different textures and flavours apart.
  • If you are not too much into strong Asian style flavours, just keep the soy and miso alike flavours out, and just use acidity (vinegar/lemon lime juice) and sweetness (sugar/maple syrup or agave) for an interesting seasoning

Basic techniques

These dishes can be very quick and easy to make. The most important thing is to prepare all your ingredients before you get the stove on.

It is great to be able to work with a carbon steel wok, but if you don’t have a wok, just use a skillet.

Start with a very hot wok (or pan) add cold oil, swirl and discard (while leaving a layer of oil), this can be any vegetable oil. Add onion (if used) ginger, garlic, chilli and miso (if used). Swirl the wok around so nothing gets burned. If you like to stir fry vegetables, add the vegetables, and stir fry shortly. Depending on what vegetables you use, you might keep some vegetables aside so they don’t get overcooked. Add your noodles (*if you are making stir fried noodles). Swirl and move the wok in a way that nothing sticks to the wok (pan). Add your preferred sauces, seasoning and/or acidity. And plate straight away while adding your toppings last.

*If you are making a noodle soup, it is best to keep the noodles separate until the last moment. Otherwise the noodles might overcook and loose their texture.

[soon a video will be uploaded here]

This Noodle guide is used also in my; ‘Travels of taste‘ series. Check out how to use our taste buds to travel the world. If you are ready to imagine yourself travelling through China whilst discovering all its divers cuisine. Check out my full China ‘travels of taste’ post; >>> China, It’s all about FOOD!

I love to see your personalised noodle dishes! Add @haricoco1 to your instagram posts so we can all share our creations, and inspire eachother.

As a recipe example I attached my Soba noodles recipe;

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