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What Are Fried Noodles?

By Mark Wollacott
Updated May 16, 2024
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Fried noodles are an important element of East Asian cuisine. During the 20th century, Asian cuisine spread across the world and became prominent in places such as America and Europe. There are a wide variety of ways to cook noodles, and frying them is a popular option because it is quick and simple.

In its simplest terms, a noodle is Asian spaghetti-pasta. It is made from thin strips of unleavened dough boiled in water and oil. Noodle-based cuisines can be found in countries such as China, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Noodles can be made from corn, mung beans, rice, and wheat.

Fried noodles are often stir fried in woks with various vegetables and meats. China has many famous fried noodle recipes including beef chow fun, chow mein, and the Chinese-American dish lo mein. China inspired a number of dishes in Nepal including chow chow, while also inspiring dishes such as char kway teow and hokkien mee in Malaysia and Singapore.

Thailand has contributed noodle dishes such as mee krob, mee siam, pad see ew, and pad thai. These are combinations of spicy stir fried noodles, and use mostly rice noodles. The Philippines and Korea have also contributed notable dishes.

In Japan, fried noodle dishes usually come in two forms: yakisoba and yaki-udon. Yaki is the Japanese word for burnt objects. Yakisoba fries thin wheat noodles on a hot plate with pork, cabbage, and vegetables and marinated with sosu, similar to Worcestershire sauce. Yaki-udon is very similar uses thicker wheat noodles. Fried noodles can also be used in Japan’s many savory pancake dishes, and is called modanyaki.

Fried noodles are an easy way to cook food using a hot plate, wok, or frying pan. Recipes require partially boiled noodles, which are often available in supermarkets. Alternately, normal noodles can be partially boiled in water and a touch of oil before being transferred to the wok or hot plate.

Traditional fried noodle recipes are also open to creativity. Fried noodles are usually accompanied with a meat and two or more vegetables, the choice of which can be made by the cook. Experimenting with different sauces may also result in new dishes. Generally speaking, it is best to eat fried noodles in moderation, as they may contain high levels of fat or calories.

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Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Feb 18, 2014

I think every Asian country has their version of fried noodles. When I was in Malaysia, I had ate somthing called mee goreng. It was made with fried noodles, beef or chicken, cabbage and eggs. It was absolutely delicious and it was available everywhere that I visited. There were even stalls selling it on the street. Some varieties were very spicy but I liked those as well.

By stoneMason — On Feb 17, 2014

@turquoise-- Fried noodles are used as a topping on Asian dishes like soups. But they are crispy, unlike fried noodles used to make main dishes like lo mein. They are both prepared the same way, by deep-frying noodles, but they are used differently. It's true that fried noodles have more calories, like fried rice. That's why I try not to have it too often.

You can also make fried noodles at home and use the oil of your choice. It will still be a calorie rich food, but you could make it slightly healthier at home. By the way, all fried noodle dishes are not Chinese. Many Asian countries use fried noodles. There are also Japanese fried noodles and Thai fried noodles for example. The idea behind each is the same but the type of noodle used, the oil it's fried in and the way the dish is prepared varies.

By turquoise — On Feb 17, 2014

I had no idea that chow mein and lo mein are made with fried Chinese noodles. No wonder they taste so good! But this also means that they have more calories than I thought.

I thought that fried noodles were only used as a condiment on top of dishes. I really did not know that main dishes can be made with fried noodles.

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