The noodles of Asia
Editor’s note: Whether you’re planning travels in Asia or checking out local eateries on Guam, it helps to know your noodles. Here’re some of the basics to get you started. Now, get tasting!
The semi-transparent noodles in this dish are made from sweet potato, which accounts for their sweetness and stretchability. They’re also sometimes sweetened with sugar. These are the noodles you find served with saucy beef and sesame oil in bulgogi, or mixed with seasonal vegetables in side dishes. The noodles can be served hot or cold.
The ultimate street food, pad Thai is a stir-fried noodle dish that is loaded with flavor-giving herbs and spices. Fish sauce gives the dish a rich, pungent taste; crushed peanuts, bean sprouts and scrambled eggs lend texture; Thai chilies give it heat. Then there are a dozen or so other ingredients that make this dish one of the most delicious and simple yet difficult-to-make in Asia.
This Chinese-inspired dish is made with fried pork and a broth of chicken and pork bones. It’s basically a variant of ramen; it’s made with egg noodles. This is definitely a cold-weather soup, as it’s served hot with plenty of broth. Korea has its own version of the dish: jjamppong. Can you guess what the difference is? That’s right; the Korean version is much spicier.
Ants Climbing a Tree
This uniquely named dish is made with Chinese vermicelli noodles, which are made from mung beans. They’re so thin they don’t need to be boiled, only steeped in hot water. The dish gets its name from the pieces of minced pork in it. They get tangled in the vermicelli noodles, and thus look like ants climbing a tree. I guess.
Perhaps the most aromatic Asian noodle dish, pho gets its distinctive smell from Vietnamese basil, mint, cinnamon and star anise. It’s made with rice noodles and traditionally contains slices of beef. The dish has roots in China and France; China contributed the style of noodles, and the French contributed the beef (before the French arrived in Vietnam, cows were used as beasts of burden, not food).