- Made from wheat flour, egg, and water.
- Japan's ultimate comfort food -- equivalent of a cheeseburger, fried chicken, and deep-dish pizza rolled into one.
- Chinese immigrants first popularized these hearty wheat noodles in the late-nineteenth century.
- The Japanese quickly adopted them, and the first modern ramen shop opened its doors in Japan in 1910.
- Ramen is typically a dish you go out to enjoy rather than make yourself.
- The different regions of Japan are intensely proud of their local recipes, from the rich, miso-based ramen of the far north to the hearty pork-stock variety famous in the country's south.
- You can find fresh-frozen or dried ramen at Japanese markets. Fresh-frozen ramen takes about two to three minutes to cook, while dried takes longer.
- Ramen is most often known as the Asian instant-style deep-fried noodles that are usually sold in cellophane packages, sometimes with bits of dehydrated vegetables and broth mix.
- Flavorful white noodles made from wheat flour and water.
- Osaka and southern Japan are the traditional home to udon.
- Although udon is a simple food, hundreds of years ago it was considered a dish of nobility, more high-class than soba.
- Udon noodles have a silky, smooth texture and are easy to slurp down.
- Udon inspire similar devotion in the south that soba does up north, although it's considered a more down-to-earth noodle.
- You can buy fresh-frozen, precooked udon at Japanese markets. All you do is quickly heat them in boiling water and they're ready. Dried udon is also available, but take a little longer to cook.
- There are two styles of udon -- sanuki, which is like thick spaghetti, and inaniwa, which resembles linguine.
- Somen are dried extra-thin Japanese noodles made from wheat flour dough with a bit of oil.
- Like udon, somen is a noodle with a long history in Japan.
- Somen is as thin as angel-hair pasta, which makes it quick and convenient to prepare.
- Somen noodles are known to be a summertime dish.
- In Japan, somen noodles are eaten chilled.
- They are refreshing and light, and you don't have to spend too much time over a hot stove to prepare a somen dish -- the noodles cook in 1 minute.
- Chilled somen complements seafood especially well and is great with delicious dipping sauces.
- They are sold in beautifully wrapped packages of five to six bundles tied with colorful ribbons.
- Rice noodles are made with rice flour and water, and are especially popular in Southeast Asia.
- Easy to find dried rice noodles in large supermarkets, but you'll probably have to visit an Asian market to find them fresh.
- Rice noodles should be pre-soaked in hot water before using in a soup or stir-fry.
- They come in a wide variety of styles.
- Rice noodles often resemble long, translucent white hairs.
- When deep-fried, they explode dramatically into a tangle of airy, crunchy strands.
- Thin Japanese noodle with a nutty flavor and delicate texture.
- Made from either both wheat and buckwheat or just buckwheat.
- These are a quick cooking noodle, usually four to six minutes.
- Impressively nutritious: high in protein and B vitamins.
- Soba is the signature noodle of northeastern region around Tokyo.
- To prepare them, hard, grainy buckwheat flour is usually mixed with a little wheat flour to make kneading easier (90/10 is the traditional ratio).
- Soba is a beloved noodle in Japan, but one that has two lives: it's a down-home soul food, like ramen, but it also has a more elegant side, elevated to a high art by celebrated soba chefs who prepare it from scratch.
- First appeared in Japan around the seventeenth century, when shops and street vendors started hawking them.
- Soba began as a humble food, sustenance for priests, laborers, and the lower classes. But before long, aristocrats and lords discovered theses delicious noodles, and elegant soba restaurants opened to serve them.
- America got an early taste of soba, when it was featured in the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.
- Soba is a popular food in homes, too. There's a tradition of serving soba on New Year's Eve -- the long noodles symbolize long life.
- You can buy fresh-frozen or dried soba noodles in Japanese markets. Frozen soba takes only a minute to cook. Dried soba takes 3 to 4 minutes to cook.
Special thanks to award-winning chef Takashi Yagihashi for sharing this information. Special thanks to Ten Speed Press for giving copies of his book, "Takashi's Noodles," to our studio audience.