The essentials

The essentials

Kathy Kordalis
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
Jacqui Melville

Types of noodles

In Asia, noodles can be found in dishes everywhere – from street food vendors to the tables of celebration feasts. Noodle dishes – symbolic of happiness, health, friendship, and commitment – are important at nearly every meal. Although they are generally associated with Asian cuisine, they also fare well with more continental flavours. What we know as pasta today was, in fact, introduced to Italy after Marco Polo travelled to China. There are many types of noodles to choose from, but below is a good selection that are readily available in most supermarkets:

Instant noodles

These are dried, pre-cooked noodle blocks that come with a flavoured powder such as chicken or vegetable. They are either cooked or soaked in boiling water before eating, and are quick and easy to prepare – a perfect one-pot meal.

Rice noodles

These are made from ground rice and water and come in many widths, ranging from vermicelli to flat ribbon noodles. They are best served once soaked or boiled in water and are a great vehicle for sauces.

Bean or cellophane thread noodles

These noodles, also known as glass noodles, are a type of transparent noodle made from starch and are most commonly sold as very fine strands in bundles. The starch can come from sweet potato or mung beans. All these need is a good soak in boiling water. They work very well in salads.

Egg noodles

These are egg-enriched wheat noodles and are commonly used in Chinese cuisine. They come in a variety of thicknesses and need to be cooked in boiling water until soft before use. They are a little more robust than other noodles so are great in a stir-fry.

Udon noodles

Udon noodles are the thickest type of Japanese noodle, made from wheat flour, salt and water. These noodles are most commonly served in a broth, usually flavoured with mirin and soy sauce.

Ramen noodles

These are used in Japanese cuisine and are made with egg, flour and salt. There are many varieties of ramen noodle, from wavy to straight, thin to thick, and just as many variations of broth. They are very versatile and can be used in soups and stir-fries. In fact, I have used them in this book to make ramen noodle buns for a burger!

Soba noodles

Soba noodles hail from Japan. Made from buckwheat flour, they have a nutty flavour and a slightly chewy texture and are great in salads.

Vegetable noodles

Courgetti or courgette (zucchini) noodles are thin strands of spiralized courgette. You can also spiralize butternut squash (pumpkin), beetroot (beet), sweet potato and many more vegetables. These are best served raw or flash cooked as a substitute or addition to ordinary noodles.

Shopping list


Spices, sauces, pastes, oils, vinegars and powdered stock are just a few essentials that help to build flavour and pimp your dishes. Here are a few suggestions:

baked beans

chilli flakes

chilli paste


condensed milk

five spice

ginger paste


hot chilli sauce



peanut butter

rice wine vinegar

sea salt

sesame oil

soy sauce

sun-dried tomato paste

sweet chilli sauce


tomato purée (paste)

vegetable stock powder



Fresh is best but if you lead a busy life, you may not always have the time to get to the shops, so keep a well-stocked freezer with essentials to pimp your noodles in an instant.

Frozen mixed vegetables: such as green beans, cauliflower, carrots and peas. A perfect way to add a quick nutritious boost to your mid-week meal.

Frozen berries: these are a brilliant way to make a quick dessert.

Frozen herbs: great to have when you can’t make it to the shops or the months aren’t sunny enough to maintain your own herb garden.

Frozen natural flavourings: such as garlic, ginger and chopped onions.

Frozen lemon and lime juice: in ice cube trays.

Frozen stock: for broths and soups.

Frozen grated cheese: a brilliant time saver.

Frozen butter: in portions ready to be added to sauces.

A few freezing tips

Your freezer is your friend. Follow these simple tips to get the most out of it.

Cool foods before you freeze them.

Wrap foods properly or put them in sealed containers, otherwise your food can get freezer burn.

If in doubt, throw it out. If you are unsure how long something has been frozen, don’t take any chances.


You can use any of the following fridge staples to whip up a great pimped noodle dish:



coriander (cilantro)

crème fraîche


grated Cheddar


limes and lemons




rocket (arugula) or spinach




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