Replace Your Carb-Loaded Pasta with These Japanese Noodles

Explore the many ways to eat Japanese noodles thrown together with a mixture of ingredients to create a dish that is both healthy and delicious
Photo by: Pickled Plum

Photo by: Pickled Plum

Noodles is to the Japanese what rice is to us Malaysians. Not only do they come in many form and sizes, the way it’s served and eaten also plays a vital role in truly understanding the Japanese diet.
If that doesn’t reel you in, then perhaps knowing that these noodles possess far greater nutritional value than that of Western-style pasta would.

1. Udon

Believe it or not, what gives these thick and chewy noodles its texture involves rigorous kneading of the dough – using feet. Of course, the dough is covered so you can rest assure that it’s perfectly safe and clean to eat.

Udon can be served either in a hot tsuyu broth sprinkled with sliced green onions, eaten cold or topped with tempura. The possibilities are endless with this one as the noodles absorb flavours beautifully, which makes them a perfect match for stronger flavoured broths.

Photo: Japan Centre

2. Yakisoba
Directly translates to “fried noodles”, yakisoba is probably the one noodle dish that is never served in soup. It is made from buckwheat and is commonly cooked with vegetables like cabbage, carrot, onion, chicken or beef.

What makes this dish special is the yakisoba sauce that is both sweet and tangy.

Photo: The Woks of Life

3. Ramen
Although ramen is of Chinese origin, it is a Japanese staple and is widely used in Japanese cuisine.

Ramen is made of wheat and an ingredient called kansui – a type of salt water that gives the noodles its yellowish colour. It goes down really well in a bowl of delicate meat or fish-based broth that is either flavoured with miso, shoyu or shio (salt).

Photo: Pickled Plum

4. Somen

Somen is a thin wheat noodle that is served cold during the summer as a way to cool down. They are either eaten plain with ice or raw vegetables and is always accompanied with tsuyu dipping sauce.

A hot version of somen is called nyumen which is served in a hot broth with meat and vegetables.

Photo: Uncle Jerry’s Kitchen

5. Soba

Made from buckwheat that is known for its nutritional properties such as being rich in protein, minerals, dietary fibre and micro-nutrients, all of which aid in liver function, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.

Soba is typically served in a bowl of thin tsuyu (soy sauce-based) broth. It comes in different variations and can be eaten both cold and hot.

The cold version is usually eaten with dipping sauce and vegetables.

Photo: NYT Cooking