March is National Noodle Month and what better way to celebrate than to enjoy different noodle dishes from cultures around the world. Noodles bring comfort to people of all nationalities, and you can bring these favorite ethnic dishes into your home and relish the comfort they will bring to you.
Noodle Dishes from Around the World
Many different countries, other than Italy, have noodle dishes that have been around for hundreds of years.In fact, research has shown that the oldest noodle so far recorded was from 4000 years ago and found in China. Italian pasta is thought to have been influenced by Asian noodle dishes, but Italians are thought to have perfected the craft.Noodles can be made from a variety of grains: millet, wheat (which is the most common), rice, mung bean, potato starch, buckwheat, or even acorns have been used over the years for noodle making.
A variety of cultural noodle dishes
Obviously the Italians have a multitude of noodle dishes, but Germans also have a noodle dish known as spaetzle, Indians have ragi noodles, and Chinese, Japanese, Korean and almost every Asian culture, have many different types of noodles crafted over the years including ramen, udon, cellophane, rice noodles, soba, and so on.
Noodles lend versatility in cooking
Noodle dishes also can be served cold or hot and as an appetizer, side dish, main course and even as a dessert. Noodles are a very versatile dish and with their soft flavor can be paired with almost anything from meat to vegetables, and even fruit and chocolate.
Noodle dishes are tasty comfort food
Next time you want a super simple dinner that is comforting, boil up some noodles and add whatever you have in the refrigerator — or if you want an easy meal for the family follow some of the recipes below.
Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad
Makes 4 servingsIngredients:
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce or salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 (12-ounce) package dried rice noodles
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
4 leaves Napa cabbage
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
4 sprigs fresh mintDirections:
1. Combine garlic, cilantro and pepper in a small bowl. Mix in lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and let rest for 5 minutes to combine flavors.2. Cook noodles in a pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 2 minutes; drain well. Rinse under cold water and drain well.3. Place noodles in a serving bowl and mix with carrots, cucumber, mint and cabbage. Drizzle with sauce and gently toss. Chill until ready to serve. Top salad with peanuts and fresh mint when ready to serve.
Gruyere and Onion Spaetzle
Makes 6 servingsIngredients:
1-3/4 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed
1-1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1 medium white onion, thinly slicedDirections:
1. Whisk milk with egg yolks and whole egg in a small bowl. Combine flour, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a separate large bowl. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon, until well combined (do not over mix, a few lumps are fine). Cover bowl and chill for 1 hour.2. Boil salted water in a large pot. Also, fill a large bowl with ice water. Add half of the batter to a colander with large holes. Hold colander over boiling water and press batter down with a spatula or spoon and let the batter drop into the boiling water (you may have to scrape the bottom of the colander to release the batter from the holes).3. Repeat this until all of the batter has been used. Cook noodles for 2 minutes, then strain and place in the ice water. Gently mix noodles in water until the ice melts, then strain and place in a large bowl. Toss noodles with 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper.3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place noodles in a casserole dish and top with butter and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted. Meanwhile, cook onions in 1 tablespoon oil for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Top noodles with onions and serve immediately.
Vegetarian Fried Udon
Makes 4 servingsIngredients:
1 (12.3-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 tablespoons low-sodium teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons loose green tea or 2 green tea bags, opened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup thinly sliced peeled daikon radish, jicama, or radish
1 cup thinly sliced leek
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
3 cups hot cooked udon noodles or spaghettiDirections:
1. Add tofu, teriyaki sauce and vinegar to a large resealable plastic bag. Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes then remove tofu from bag and save liquid.2. SautÃ© tea in hot oil for 30 seconds over medium-high heat. Add tofu, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in daikon, leeks and carrots and cook for 1 minute. Mix in noodles and saved liquid and continue cooking 2 minutes or until heated through.