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A guide to noodles of the world

Marnely Rodriguez-Murray is the author of the food blog Cooking with Books. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she has worked as an overnight bread baker in Colorado and a chocolate maker in Virginia. She currently resides ...

Where they come from & how to use them

Each region of the world has noodles they identify with and create recipes with. Learn more about what makes each of them unique.
Variety of noodles
Photo credit: Photodisc/Getty Images

Whether they are made from wheat, corn or rice flour, noodles have become a staple in some major cuisines of the world. You might think that pasta comes from Italy, but it actually originated in China in 1700 B.C. when the Chinese created a noodle made from rice flour. Later on, the population of Western Italy created a noodle similar to what today is a lasagna noodle from spelt flour. But still, we can't even give the Italians the credit for boiling pasta for the first time. It was actually the Arabs, in their long journeys and travels, who discovered that adding boiling water to dry noodles makes for a simple but delicious meal.

Noodles are based out of a couple of regions:

  • Asia, known for rice flour-based noodles.
  • Italy, known for semolina-based noodles.
  • Eastern Europe, known for dumplings, noodles and pancakes.

Now, we're not stating that these are the only regions that use noodles/pasta, but they are the most common places were dishes are heavily based on pasta and noodle preparation. Below, is a list of noodle/pasta shapes and recipe ideas.

Soba noodles

Soba Noodles

Photo credit: A Brown Table

Italian noodles

Italian noodles

Photo credit: girlichef

The sheer variety of Italian noodles is outstanding. Everything from wide pappardelle to thin angel hair, the Italians have a pasta shape for every sauce and occasion. We've shared some of our favorites below.

Chinese noodles

Chinese Noodles

Photo credit: The Law Student's Wife

Eastern European noodles

Eastern European noodles

Photo credit: an edible mosaic

Hand-pulled noodles

Hand-pulled noodles

Photo credit: Tiny Urban Kitchen
  • Origin: Taiwan
  • Description: An intense technique that requires a good amount of practice, the taste and texture is unlike any other noodle.
  • Method of cooking: Cook in boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
  • Recipes: Hand pulled noodles

More on noodles

Rice noodles with veggies and Thai basil sauce
Ginger-scallion scallops with soy-citrus soba noodles
Noodle dishes from around the world

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