Noodles literally are in every culture around the world. Every country will have seemingly endless dishes with a simple noodle as a start. From history we know the origin of the noodle is Chinese. As far back as 4 thousand years ago there are written records of the noodle from China’s East Han Dynasty. We are talking 25 A.D. which is pretty-far back.
I don’t think the noodle is going out of style anytime soon. Fast forward to today, noodles are everywhere. Referred to as Pasta, Noodles, Couscous, Rice noodles, Macaroni, Spätzle, Cellophane noodles, Ramen, Spaghetti, Vermicelli, Soba, Mi Goreng, Savaii, Pan mee… Almost endless named references for the noodle across the world. Let’s explore some of the most popular noodle dishes we see more and more of today.
United States – Undoubtedly Macaroni and Cheese is well known in the states – Did anyone know this popular dish on most everyone’s side dish list has its cheddar version origin in England? Before that versions of macaroni and cheese date back to Italy in the 1200’s. So, historically Mac & Cheese has really held its popularity through the years. United States also has dumplings that are a type of noodle inserted into thick sauces with meat, stews and soups. The southern states specialize in the dumpling with the famous Chicken and Dumplings recipe.
China – Rice Noodles, Ramen noodles, noodles folded into dumplings stuffed with various meats, veggies or seafood, Lo Mein, Chow Mein, Wonton, Mee Pok and Udon are just a few of the Chinese versions of noodles. The Chinese make noodles from wheat and rice primarily with a variety of thickness. Some are soft while others will have a firm bite. Frying noodles is also common in Asia for a snack before dinner served with a sweet dip. Asian countries consume the most noodles on earth.
Japan – Ramen, Ramune or Ramian noodles is a Japanese dish of noodles served in broth of a meat or sometimes fish-based complemented with soy or miso. Topping options are plentiful starting with scallions, thinly sliced meats, seaweeds and other various ingredients. The Ramen noodles were originally introduced to the Japanese by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century. The noodles are wheat based. There is a fried noodle salad called mee krob not to be missed if you get a chance to try.
Italy – Probably the most famous country when you think of the pasta as a noodle. Pasta comes in every shape and form from strings to shell shaped. Twisted versions catch and hold the sauce. Little pillows filled with cheese or a variety of fillings called ravioli await a plethora of sauce options. Tubes called manicotti for dinner or cannoli’s for dessert often drizzled with chocolate filled with sweet cheese. You will also find a rice shaped pasta named Orzo used in soups and special dishes. Pasta is constructed with semolina or durum wheat flour with eggs and water then formed into shapes to ready for boiling or baking. Ingredients have been experimented with and you will find varieties using black squid ink, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, beets, garlic and herbs and many other vegetables to color and flavor the pasta. In any shape or color, Italy mastered pasta their way.
Germany – Noodles in Germany are spaetzle made by dropping the spaetzle mixture slowly with a sieve into boiling water to make a side dish. The spaetzle is served with all kinds of German specialties instead of rice or potatoes. The German people love their rich thick meaty sauces like Creamy Hunter’s Sauce filled with pork and mushrooms over spaetzle. Spaetzle is enjoyed in soups, with cheese sauces, with salads and even on the plain side with butter and parsley. Find your favorite and indulge.
Mexico – Yes, Mexico has noodle dishes. We were suspicious because we have only had rice in every which way in Mexican dishes then we found the noodle. Fideo noodles are Vermicelli like noodles used in a variety of ways. Noodle Casseroles called Sopa Seca are easy to make. As one might expect there will be a tomato-based noodle complete with a chili pepper for the kick of flavor. A tomato chicken-based soup with noodles finished with a squeeze of lime on top. You will find recipes for Mexican noodle dishes topped with a meaty mixture and a bit of cilantro. All worth investigating.
France – France is not known for noodles but does utilize the noodle in casseroles using Gruyere cheese or Comte cheese, tarragon, shallots with poached chicken baked to a bubbly goodness as the French are known to do. Gastronomically, French cooking will be rich and wonderful. The ravioli is quite popular in France as well with a variety of toppings. Remember France borders Italy so it makes sense that pasta come over the border and melded into French cooking.
Peru – Peruvian pesto green noodles served up with grilled steak is a staple in Peru and has migrated into many countries with its people. The noodle dish, (tallarines verdes)is a spaghetti noodle in shape with a rich pesto coating often topped with queso fresco. You will find a variety of toppings offered in Peruvian cooking integrated into noodle dishes. One of the favorites is steak grilled with onions and peppers with a savory sauce added and thickened then poured over the noodle.
Norway – Norway serves up interesting flat noodle dishes made from Barley noodles. Creamy based with chanterelle mushrooms and juniper berries are one of the fancy dishes. Flat noodles predominate the cooking.
Russia – Russia utilizes pasta flat in soups, balled up and dropped in soups as dumpling like additions. You will find pasta stuffed with meats, cheeses and steamed served with butter like the Polish pierogi.
The influence of the noodle has travelled far and wide from its early beginnings. The Asian countries have the most variety with how each of the countries serve it up in their own style and flavors. We tried as many as we could researching this article and encourage you to discover your favorites. Share this page with your family and friends too to have them discover noodles from around the world.