|Place of origin||China|
|Region or state||East Asia|
|Main ingredients||Unleavened dough|
Noodles are a type of food made from unleavened dough which is rolled flat and cut, stretched or extruded, into long strips or strings. Noodles can be refrigerated for short-term storage or dried and stored for future use.
Noodles are usually cooked in boiling water, sometimes with cooking oil or salt added. They are also often pan-fried or deep-fried. Noodle dishes can include a sauce or noodles can be put into soup. The material composition and geocultural origin is specific to each type of a wide variety of noodles. Noodles are a staple food in many cultures (see Chinese noodles, Japanese noodles, Korean noodles, Filipino noodles, Vietnamese noodles and Italian pasta).
The origin of thin, string-like pieces of dough that are often dried and then cooked is hard to pinpoint. What is called noodles is sometimes only considered to be the modern East Asian variety and not the general type and correspondingly its origin is usually listed as Chinese, but when it includes pasta it becomes more controversial. The earliest written record of noodles in China is found in a book dated to the Eastern Han period (25–220 CE). It became a staple food for the people of the Han dynasty. Food historians generally estimate that pasta's origin is from among the Mediterranean countries: homogenous mixture of flour and water called itrion as described by 2nd century Greek physician Galen, among 3rd to 5th centuries Palestinians itrium as described by the Jerusalem Talmud and itriyya (Arabic cognate of the Greek word), string-like shapes made of semolina and dried before cooking as defined by the 9th century Aramean physician and lexicographer Isho bar Ali. In 2005 a team of Chinese archaeologists reported finding an earthenware bowl that contained remains of 4000-year-old noodles at the Lajia archaeological site. The findings were said to resemble Lamian, a type of Chinese noodle. Analyzing the husk phytoliths and starch grains present in the sediment associated with the noodles, they were identified as millet belonging to Panicum miliaceum and Setaria italica. The findings being noodles was disputed because millet, being gluten-free, isn't suitable for making noodles as we know them. Wheat wasn't widely cultivated until the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE).
American food writer and author of On the Noodle Road Jen Lin-Liu notes that documentation of what can be clearly described noodles came about much later on the western side of the world than in China, although she stresses she doesn't exclude the possibility of two independent inventions. The earliest documentation describes small bits of bread dough thrown into a wok of boiling water, eaten even today as mian pian.
Wheat noodles in Japan (udon) were adapted from a Chinese recipe as early as the 9th century. Innovations continued, such as noodles made with buckwheat (naengmyeon) were developed in the Joseon Dynasty of Korea (1392–1897). Ramen noodles, based on southern Chinese noodle dishes from Guangzhou but named after the northern Chinese lamian, became common in Japan by 1900.
Central and West Asia
Kesme or Reshteh noodles were eaten by Turkic peoples by the 13th century. Ash reshteh (noodles in thick soup with herbs) is one of the most popular Persian dishes in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Iran.
The finger millet proto-noodle has long been a part of Indian food culture, hearkening back to 2300 BC. This represents the earliest known point of noodle existence in India.
In the 1st century BCE, Horace wrote of fried sheets of dough called lagana. However, the method of cooking these sheets of dough, lagana, does not correspond to the current definition of either a fresh or dry pasta product, which only had similar basic ingredients and perhaps the shape.
In the area that would become Germany, written mention of Spätzle has been found in documents dating from 1725, although medieval illustrations are believed to place this noodle at an even earlier date.
Ancient Israel and diaspora
The Latinized itrium was used as a reference to a kind of boiled dough. Arabs adapted noodles for long journeys in the fifth century, the first written record of dry pasta. Muhammad al-Idrisi wrote in 1154 that itriyya was manufactured and exported from Norman Sicily. Itriya was also known by the Persian Jewish (who spoke Aramaic during early Persian rule) and during the Islamic rule referred to a small soup noodle of Greek origin prepared by twisting bits of kneaded dough into shape, resembling Italian orzo.
Zacierki is a type of noodle found in Polish Jewish cuisine. It was part of the rations distributed to the Jewish victims in the Łódź Ghetto by the Nazis. (Out of the "major ghettos", Łódź was the most affected by hunger, starvation and malnutrition-related deaths.) The diary of a young Jewish girl from Łódź recounts a fight she had with her father over a spoonful of zacierki taken from the family's meager supply of 200 grams a week.
Types by primary ingredient
Egg noodles are made of a mixture of egg and flour.
Types of dishes
- Baked noodles: Boiled and drained noodles are combined with other ingredients and baked. Common examples include many casseroles.
- Basic noodles: These are cooked in water or broth, then drained. Other foods can be added or the noodles are added to other foods (see fried noodles) or the noodles can be served plain with a dipping sauce or oil to be added at the table. In general, noodles are soft and absorb flavors.
- Chilled noodles: noodles that are served cold, sometimes in a salad. Examples include Thai glass noodle salad and cold udon.
- Fried noodles: dishes made of noodles stir fried with various meats, seafood, vegetables, and dairy products. Typical examples include chow mein, lo mein, mie goreng, hokkien mee, some varieties of pancit, yakisoba, Curry Noodles, and pad thai.
- Noodle soup: noodles served in broth. Examples are phở, beef noodle soup, chicken noodle soup, ramen, laksa, saimin, and batchoy.
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Spätzle is a city specialty.
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