A guide to noodles of the world
Each region of the world has noodles they identify with and create recipes with. Learn more about what makes each of them unique.
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.
Photo credit: A Brown Table
- Origin: Japan
- Description: Made of buckwheat flour, soba refers to thin noodles and udon refers to thicker noodles.
- Method of cooking: Rinse to remove excess starch and cook as you would pasta, in boiling water.
- Recipes: Winter soba noodle salad, sesame soba noodles with green onions and soba noodles and tofu with spicy peanut sauce
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.
- Origin: Italy
- Description: Variety of shapes, more than hundreds to name.
- Method of cooking: In boiling, salted water until al dente.
- Recipes: Butternut squash and prosciutto bucatini carbonara, pasta aglio olio with broccoli rabe, cheesy lobster spaghetti and Gorgonzola linguine with sage and green beans
Photo credit: The Law Student's Wife
- Origin: China
- Description: Typically made from wheat flour, these noodles vary in shape but tend to be long. Noodles are said to signify long life in Asian culture, thus people consume them on their birthday.
- Method of cooking: Boiling salted water.
- Recipes: Spicy peanut butter noodles, Chinese beef bok choy noodles, Shanghai fried noodles with spicy beef and hot and sour noodle stir-fry with peanut chicken
Eastern European noodles
Photo credit: an edible mosaic
- Origin: Eastern Europe
- Description: A variety of noodles made from wheat flour and eggs make the base for these noodles, including spaetzle and egg noodles.
- Method of cooking: Quickly in boiling water.
- Recipes: Gruyere and onion spaetzle, lazy sauerkraut pierogi casserole
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