Asian Noodles

Udon, ramen, soba and rice noodles are all widely used in Asian cooking, and you can find almost all of them at your local grocery store. Use Chinese-style egg noodles to make your own take out, like in this super easy version of beef and broccoli chow mein. The key to this recipe is the sauce; made from brown sugar, rice vinegar, hoisin, soy sauce and oyster sauce, it’s perfectly sweet and savory. Thicker noodles like udon are great for chilled or room-temperature salads—once they’re cooked, mix with julienned vegetables, shrimp, cilantro, ginger, teriyaki sauce and chile sauce for a quick and easy lunch. Find these recipes and more in F&W’s guide to Asian noodles.

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Korean Japchae

When I was little, I thought I could pass for white. If you know me, you know this is hilarious—because I look just like my mom, who is 100% Korean. (My dad, by the way, is a very warm, funny white guy.) Growing up in small towns in Mississippi in the 1970s, I just wanted to believe I was like most of my other friends: decidedly all-American. I would commit lies of omission all the time, neglecting to share that I had an Asian mom who often perfumed our house with the funky smells of kimchi, dried anchovies, and simmering seaweed soups. Instead, I boasted of her chicken-fried steak and gravy.But that all changed in middle school, when, at a sleepover I hosted, I gained the confidence to share my mom’s japchae with my friends. This dish—a classic Korean recipe featuring slippery glass noodles tossed with meat and vegetables—was my absolute favorite growing up (still is!). I always loved the chewy texture of the noodles, the interplay of nutty sesame oil and savory soy sauce, the hint of sweetness, and the garlicky wilted spinach. My mom had made a large batch, and there were leftovers in the fridge. They weren’t intended for my sleepover friends, because of course I didn’t want to serve them Korean food. But then I did. In the middle of the night, between movies and fueled by a mean case of the munchies, I gathered up the courage to introduce my friends to japchae.“Eww, that looks like worms,” one friend said upon the unveiling. Deep breath, Ann, you know this is damn good food. After some gentle coaxing, once the intoxicating aromas of sesame and garlic registered with the hungry girls, one of them took a bite, and then another. They loved it! Even cold straight from the fridge! We took turns pinching a clump of noodles between our fingers, leaning our heads way back for dramatic effect, and then dropping the deliciousness in. We gobbled up every single bit.That was a turning point for me. Little by little, I began to embrace the Korean side of my identity, mostly through food—because food, for so many of us, is an immediate gateway to our culture. I often cook Korean dishes for my family so that my children, now in their early teens, can feel some connection to their Korean roots. And you know what? Japchae is their favorite. When we eat it, I tell them how my mom used to make it for me when I was a kid. I tell them about how, when I went to Korea and made japchae in a cooking class, the instructor told me that it’s important to honor each element with its own seasoning and cooking method, to fully bring out its best and to preserve its color. I tell them that the dish was once considered royal cuisine but has now become more commonplace. In this way, food serves as a means for us to connect to our deeper heritage, helping us understand the depths of who we are. And for me, I know more now than ever who I am—not fully white, not fully Asian, but something beautifully in between.

Ramen Noodle Salad

This salad has a retro vibe. Improving in flavor and texture as it stands, it’s a good choice for a potluck supper and makes a delicious accompaniment to grilled chicken or steak. Slideshow: More Ramen Recipes 

Icy-Cold Kimchi Ramen

Food & Wine’s Laura Rege uses both kimchi and its juices in this cold and refreshing ramen dish. She serves the cooked and cooled noodles in an icy kimchi broth, then adds chopped kimchi to the final dish, along with corn, scallions and mushrooms. Slideshow: More Ramen Recipes 

Ramped Up Ramen

Rating: Unrated
4
Packaged ramen noodles get doctored with egg, cabbage, ham and scallions in this quick microwave-dinner dish. Feel free to swap out the cabbage for spinach, or replace the ham with roasted chicken. Slideshow: More Ramen Recipes 

More Asian Noodles

Buckwheat Soba Tiger Salad

F&W Best New Chef 2017 Peter Cho, of Han Oak in Portland, Oregon, is a master at riffing on Asian classics. He says that he created this dish to curb his wife’s cravings for one of their favorite places in New York City, Xi’an Famous Foods. “When we lived in New York, we went there pretty regularly, and we always ate the tiger vegetable salad, warm spicy tofu and the pork zha jjang hand-pulled noodles,” he says. “This is my version of a combination of those dishes.” Slideshow: More Noodle Salad Recipes 

Spicy Wok-Fried Ramen with Crab

New Orleans chef Michael Gulotta uses fragrant Thai chile paste as well as crab paste to pack flavor into his fresh crab-and-mushroom noodle stir-fry. He makes the noodles from scratch at his restaurant, MoPho, but using store-bought ramen (minus the seasoning packet) is a smart shortcut. Slideshow:  More Ramen Recipes