Rice Noodles and Ramen
If you know anything about Asian cuisine, you’ll know that noodle soups are a fan favorite and are commonly eaten on a daily basis in most Asian countries. Interestingly enough, before the introduction of Asian noodles, the word ‘noodles’ was once known in many countries as simply any pasta product made from flour, water, and eggs. It’s mainly due to the fact that Asian noodles do not contain any eggs that they have their own special section in the general definition of ‘noodles’.
Knowing this, its not hard to imagine that there must be hundreds, if not thousands of varieties of soups, ingredients, and noodles to choose from in just Asia alone. Two of the most common noodle types people love adding to their soups are rice noodles and wheat flour noodles. While they sound like practically the same thing, these two noodles have interesting variances that many people might not know about.
Rice noddles, as the name suggests, are made from rice. Specifically, rice noodles are made from rice flour and water. They can also be made by soaking rice in water, grinding it into a paste, rolling it out on a flat surface, and then cutting the paste into desired shapes for noodles. The process of creating these succulent noodles can take as little as eight hours or as many as four days to prepare. They’re considered to be one of the more healthy options in terms of benefits and nutritional value, though many people have a hard time accepting that something so tasty could also be good for the body.
Rice noodles provide a decent amount of protein, fiber, zinc, and iron in every delicious serving. It’s not enough to replace other means of getting these nutrients, but every little bit helps. Additionally, rice noodles generally have the smallest amount of calories per serving when compared to other noodles, which many people are happy about. This rice product has an interesting way of filling the stomach, though with such tasty dishes the noodle is commonly used in, it’s hard to stop at a single serving.
The noodles used in traditional Japanese ramen are made from wheat flour, and have a variety of sizes, widths, and appearances. Some are long and thin, others short and curly, and some are almost too thick to eat easily with chopsticks. Rarely are other noodle types substituted into traditional ramen meals, but it does happen from time to time due to either chef preference or customer request. Rice flour noodles have been known to be substituted for tradition wheat flour noodles to provide a safer meal alternative for those with gluten-free diets.
Ramen has never been considered a health food, and likely never will. That doesn’t mean that ramen is extremely unhealthy to eat – far from it. Fresh ramen served in restaurants or made at home can be very nutritious and healthy. Depending on how the broth is made, how many noodles are in the bowl, and how many vegetables and toppings are added, a single bowl of ramen can be considered quite the healthy choice when compared to other comfort foods. Though, when compared to the majority of hot soups in the world, it doesn’t exactly put its best foot forward.
Both rice noodles and ramen noodles are enjoyed in many areas of Asia as well as across the world practically every day. They’re easily added to a broth to create a flavorful and filling soup, and can be eaten dry, wet, hot, or cold. Many restaurants cater to each of these noodles, and there are chefs that claim that there are right ways and wrong ways to prepare each noodle. Many will counter that it’s the broth that makes the soup and the noodles are just there to carry the flavors from bowl to mouth, but we can all agree that noodles are an important part of the dish.
Both rice noodles and ramen can be dried and prepared at home or elsewhere, and both can come in various widths and sizes. Though they had their humble beginnings in their respective home countries, rice noodles and ramen have spread to the farthest reaches of the globe and have taken root in the hearts of foodies worldwide. The only thing that could possibly bring these two noodles closer together is if a hybrid of the two was somehow created to showcase both wheat flour and rice flour in one delicious bowl of noodles, broth, and toppings.
For starters, rice noodles are made from rice flour while ramen noodles are made from wheat flour. This means that rice noodles are considered to have a higher nutritional value than ramen noodles, and are also gluten-free and safe to eat with gluten intolerance or sensitivity to eat. There are, however, a few types of ramen that are gluten-free, which you can read about in “Gluten-Free Ramen” if you’d like to learn more. That being said, the majority of ramen cooked and served is not gluten-free, and does not meet the same health level that rice noodles can.
As ramen noodles are typically the only types of noodles used in ramen, rice noodles are much less specialized to a single dish like ramen noodles are. There aren’t any ‘rice noodle bars’ that you can walk up to and order one of the four traditional soups that feature rice noodles; that’s a privilege reserved for the four traditional soups of ramen commonly found all over Japan and around the world. Like many other types of non-specialized noodles, rice noodles have the freedom to appear in many more dishes than ramen noodles could ever dream of. Thankfully, that doesn’t deter from the fact that both of rice noodles and ramen noodles have their own unique, delicious taste that everyone can enjoy.
Which Is Better?
Ramen, of course! Only joking. The best type of noodle for a dish is up to the person who’s making it. It’s suggested, of course, to use ramen noodles for ramen dishes, but with the growing trend of chefs who are trying to use ramen noodles in other dishes (such as making gnocchi out of ramen noodles!), perhaps someday they’ll be as versatile as rice noodles. In the meantime, ramen and rice noodles will both go on tasting amazing and being as healthy as they can be.
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