Types of Japanese noodles

The 7 Different types of Japanese Noodles and their recipes

Also known as “men” in Japanese, noodle is the staple food of the Japanese, well as an integral part of the Japanese cuisine. Many people view noodles as a convenient food, and the different varieties of the noodles can be served with salads, as stir-fried foods, in soups, or with dipping sauces.

Here on Ask Japanese on Youtube the favorite Japanese noodles are discussed:

Different types of Japanese noodles

The 7 types of Japanese noodles infographic

Ramen

Ramen is thin, curly wheat noodles. They are the most famous noodles and mostly eaten in a well seasoned broth (a typical ramen dish) with pork, mushrooms, corn and an egg.

Bowl of ramen

Everyone in Japan loves Ramen noodles. Out of the different varieties of Japanese noodles, Ramen noodles are the most famous. One notable thing about these noodles is that they are very thin and mostly wavy or curly, and are slightly yellow in color.

Ramen noodles are made out of wheat flour, water, salt, and kansui, or a type of limy water. Before being rolled, the dough first rises. It is believed that ramen noodles are imported from China, and are also known as Chuka soba at times.

Mostly, ramen noodles are enjoyed in chicken soup, or pork stock, shiitake mushrooms, onions, niboshi, kombu, and katsuobushi.

  • Tonkotsu soup – this soup has a cloudy white color, and it’s a thick broth that’s made out of pork bones.
  • Shio ramen – this yellowish soup is a bit lighter when it comes to its color, and it’s made with broth and salt. It has a lighter flavor, and it’s the best accompaniment for straight noodles, instead of the curly ones.
  • Shoyu ramen – this is a simple soup, which contains clear brown broth. The soup is made with a lot of soy sauce, and a special type of stock. Marinated bamboo shoots or menma, are the most commonly used toppings, as well as kamaboko, green onions, bean sprouts, and boiled eggs.
  • Miso ramen – this is very popular, especially in Hokkaido. You can use corn and butter, sesame seeds, cabbage, and garlic to prepare it.

Japanese ramen noodle soup

Ingredients:

  • Chicken stock – 700 ml
  • garlic cloves (halved) – 3
  • soy sauce – 4 tbsp. (plus extra to season)
  • Worcestershire sauce – 1 tsp.
  • Sliced ginger – thumb-sized
  • Chinese five-spice – ½ tsp
  • Pinch of chili powder
  • White sugar – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Ramen noodles – 375g
  • Sliced cooked pork or chicken breast – 400g
  • Sesame oil – 2 tsp

For the garnish

  • Baby spinach – 100g
  • Sweetcorn – 4 tbsp
  • Boiled eggs – 4 (peeled and halved)
  • Dried nori – 1 sheet (finely shredded)
  • Sliced green spring onions or shallots
  • Sprinkle of sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Mix the chicken stock, garlic cloves, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, Chinese five-spice, chili powder and water (300 ml) in a large saucepan or stockpot. Allow the ingredients to boil, and then reduce the heat. Allow them to simmer for around 5 minutes.
  2. Taste your stock, and add a teaspoon of white sugar or extra soy sauce to make the stock saltier or sweeter, depending on your preference.
  3. Next, cook your ramen noodles, and make sure that you follow the packaging instructions. Drain the noodles and set them aside.
  4. Slice your pork or chicken, and then fry it in sesame oil (2 tsp) until they start to brown. Set them aside.
  5. Divide your noodles using for bowls, and top each portion with ¼ of the meat, 25g spinach, sweet corn (1 tbsp) and two halves of boiled eggs.
  6. Now, strain your stock into a clean pan, and then boil it again.
  7. Once the stock has boiled, divide it between these four bowls, and then sprinkle the shredded nori sheet, spring onions or shallots, and sesame seeds. Let the spinach to wither slightly before serving.

Also check out this video on how to make Ramen:

Udon

Udon noodles have a thick texture, as well as a pale white color, unlike the other types of Japanese noodles. Udon noodles are made out of wheat flour, and they are mostly served alongside a basic broth.

Bowl of Japanese Udon noodles

They have a neutral flavor, which makes this type of Japanese noodles very versatile as it gives you endless possibilities to make the dish interesting. Japanese fried chicken (karaage), boiled eggs, and tempura are mostly served alongside udon noodles.

Interestingly, udon noodles are the cheapest amongst all other types of Japanese noodles.

Some of the most common udon dishes include:

  • Kitsune udon (also known as fox udon) – this is a basic udon dish that is served alongside abura-age, which is a thin slice of deep-fried bean curd. So, why the little fox name? The name doesn’t suggest that these noodles are made from for, but, interestingly, abura-age is considered to be the favorite food for fox, hence the name.
  • Curry udon – these are udon noodles, which are mixed with Japanese curry. They are very tasty and are mostly served during the winter season.
  • Tsukimi Udon (also known as moon viewing udon) – a raw egg – the moon—is used the topping for these udon noodles.
  • Kashimen broth – this is a dish that’s native to the Aichi prefecture. One thing makes these dish special—the thin and flat shape of the noodles.
  • Tempura udon – just like its name suggests, the meal comprises of udon noodles, which are topped with tempura, and then served with a broth.
  • Yaki udon – the noodles are stir-fried in a sauce made out of soy sauce, and they are prepared just like yakisoba.

It’s important to note that udon noodles are commonly used in different nabe dishes. In the Japanese Nagoya region, these noodles simmered in a miso soup when preparing miso-nikomi udon.

Hoto udon is the thickest among all other types of udon noodles and is common in Yamanashi. A thick miso soup, as well as lots of vegetables, are used to prepare this dish.

Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Udon Noodles recipe

Ingredients:

  • Teaspoon peanut oil – 1 teaspoon (plus more as needed)
  • Boneless and skinless chicken thighs – 1 (thinly sliced)
  • Tablespoons soy sauce – 3
  • Scallions – 3 (white and green parts separated sliced on the bias)
  • Garlic cloves – 2 (smashed and finely chopped)
  • Fresh ginger – 1-inch piece (peeled and finely grated)
  • Jalapeno – ½ seeded and cut into brunoise
  • Medium carrots – 2 julienned
  • Shiitake mushrooms – 4 ounces (stemmed and sliced)
  • Rice wine vinegar – 3 tablespoons
  • Chiffonade Napa cabbage – 1 cup
  • Edamame – ½ cup
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh udon noodles – 1 pound
  • Sesame oil (for drizzling)
  • Peanuts – ¼ cup (coarsely chopped)
  • Cilantro (for garnishing)

Directions:

  1. Coat a large sauté pan with peanut oil, and then toss in your chicken and add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Cook the chicken until it’s cooked through, remove it, and then set it aside for later use. Make sure that the heat is on medium setting.
  2. Now, add the white scallion pieces, ginger, jalapenos, and ginger. Add some more oil and then cook for around 1 – 2 minutes, under medium heat. Next, toss in the carrots, and then cook until they are soft—this should take you around 2 minutes. Once the carrots are ready, toss in the mushrooms and then cook until they are soft—this should take around 2 – 3 minutes. Next, add the remaining soy sauce and vinegar, and then add the edamame, cabbage, and the chicken. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes, and then sprinkle the green scallions.
  3. Boil salted water in a large pot and toss in your noodles. Swish them around using a pair of tongs to prevent them from sticking together. Cook for around 30 seconds until they become soft.
  4. Now, add the cooked noodles to the pan, stir to mix the ingredients, and cook until your noodles are hot and well coated. Add some sesame oil, and then serve when hot. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts.

Soba

Also known as buckwheat noodles, soba noodles are typically prepared with a mixture of wheat flour and buckwheat. People with conditions related to celiac are advised to search for 100% buckwheat noodles since they are the only Japanese noodles that they can eat.

white pasta on black wooden plate with soba noodles

There are different variations of soba noodles, just like udon, which range from chilled noodles to noodles served in a soup. Zaru soba is a form of soba noodles, which is chilled, and then served on a bamboo tray, with some green onions and seaweed. These noodles are then dopped in tsuyu.

Once you are done with eating the noodles, you can enjoy a sobayu drink or the water that was used to cook the soba, which is mixed the tsuyu left over. Common toppings for cold soba include tororo, grated daikon, as well as yamaimo puree. Tempura, on the other hand, is common for warm soba, just like duck or sansai (mountain veggies.)

Traditionally, soba is eaten during the New Year ’s Eve in Japan, and this is a tradition that is observed up to date. This practice is known as Toshikoshioba; it has several meanings, like prayers for a thin and long life.

Sesame Soba Noodles Recipe

Ingredients

  • HemisFares Soba Buckwheat Noodles – 10 ounces (Air-dried)
  • HemisFares Soy Sauce – 1/3 cup (double fermented)
  • Rice vinegar – 2 tablespoons
  • Toasted sesame oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Black pepper – ¼ teaspoon (freshly ground)
  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon
  • Canola oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Green onions – 2 cups (chopped to ¼-inch pieces)
  • Green onions – ½ cup (minced)
  • Toasted sesame seeds – 3 tablespoons

Directions

  1. Boil water in a large pot, and then cook your soba noodles for around 4 to 5 minutes, or just when they are tender. Make sure that you occasionally stir the noodles to prevent the noodles from clumping together. Drain your noodles in a colander and then rinse well under running cold water. Toss the noodles to remove the starch.
  2. As your noodles cook, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and black pepper in a medium bowl, and then set them aside.
  3. On a large skillet, add canola oil, and heat until it starts to shimmer, and then add your chopped green onions. Stir for around 15 to 30 seconds or until you get some fragrant. The heat setting should be on medium-high.
  4. Now, add your sesame and oil mixture, and cook for around 30 seconds. Add your cooked soba noodles and toss until they are well heated. Add the green onions and ½ of the toasted sesame seeds. Use the remaining sesame seeds to garnish, and then serve when warm.

Yakisoba

Even though this name has the word soba, yakisoba noodles are not made out of buckwheat noodles, but it’s stir-fried wheat flour noodles. Yakisoba noodles resemble ramen noodles, and are mostly prepared with small pieces of veggies like carrots, onions, or cabbage, pork, and then flavored with pepper, salt, and yakisoba sauce.

Bowl of Japanese yakisoba fried noodles

The noodles are topped with green seaweed powder (aonori), red pickled ginger (beni shoga), bonito flakes (katsuobushi), as well as mayonnaise. Yakisoba noodles are very common, and mostly seen in Yatai and Matsuri in Japan.

Yakisoba (Japanese stir-fry noodles) recipe

Ingredients

  • Onion – ½
  • Carrot – 1
  • Shiitake mushrooms – 3
  • Green onions/scallions – 2
  • Cabbage leaves – 4
  • Sliced pork belly – 340 g (or your choice of meat and/or seafood)
  • Neutral flavor oil – 2 Tbsp vegetable, canola, etc.)
  • Black pepper (Freshly ground)
  • Yakisoba Noodles (1 package)
  • Yakisoba sauce – 4-6 Tbsp

Yakisoba Sauce (Makes ½ cup (8 Tbsp))

  • Sugar – 2 tsp (add more sugar if you don’t use Japanese Bulldog Worcestershire sauce)
  • Soy sauce – 2 tsp
  • Oyster sauce – 4 tsp
  • Ketchup – 4 tsp
  • Worcestershire sauce – 4 Tbsp

Toppings (optional)

  • Aonori (dried green seaweed)
  • pickled red ginger (beni shoga or kizami beni shoga)

Directions:

  1. Gather all your ingredients together.
  2. Next, whisk together the yakisoba sauce ingredients, and then set them aside
  3. Slice your onion, and cut the carrot into small julienned strips. Lastly, slice your shiitake mushrooms.
  4. Chop your green onion into small 2 inch pieces, cut your cabbage into bite-size pieces, and the meat into 1-inch pieces.
  5. Now, in a wok or skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat, and cook your meat until it starts to brown.
  6. Add the carrot and onion, and then cook for around 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Next, add your cabbage, and cook it until tender.
  8. Then, add the shiitake mushrooms and green onion, and cook for around 1 minute. Season with the freshly ground pepper.
  9. Now, put the yakisoba noodles in a sieve, and then run hot water over the noodles. Use your hands to separate the noodles. Now, add your noodles to your wok or skillet, and reduce the heat setting to medium. You can use tongs to mix the yakisoba noodles with the rest of the ingredients. Monitor your noodles as they cook since they can easily stick to your wok or skillet.
  10. Once the noodles and ingredients are mixed together, add your yakisoba sauce. Adjust your sauce, depending on the amount of the ingredients in the wok or skillet. Use tongs to mix them together. Once done, transfer the noodles onto a plate and then garnish with pickled red ginger and dried green seaweed. Serve while hot.

Also read: how to make a delicious Hibachi noodle dish

Somen

Somen noodles are very thin white noodles, made out of wheat flour, and are mostly served when cold. They are common, especially during the summer, and are at times served alongside hot soup (nyumen) during the winter.

Bowl of Japanese Somen cold noodles

Typically, somen noodles are served in a simple way, chilled in ice once they are cooked and then dipped in tsuyu—which is a sauce made out of katsuobushi and has some ginger, onion, or myoga.

Flowing somen or nagashi somen is a fun and interesting way to serve somen in the summertime. Somen noodles are first placed in a long bamboo flume, and then each diner catches the noodles as they are passed by, dipping them in the tsuyu sauce before feasting on them.

Somen Noodle Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Dried somen noodles – 4 bundles

Toppings:

  • Ginger – ½ inch
  • Green onion/scallion – 1
  • Myoga ginger (thinly sliced, optional)
  • Shiso leaves (Ooba) (thinly sliced, optional)

Dipping Sauce:

  • ½-1 cup water (cold iced, if you use concentrated Mentsuyu)
  • ¼ cup mentsuyu (noodle soup base)

Directions:

  1. This step is optional but is used in most of the traditional Japanese restaurants. The restaurants tie up the noodles to improve their appearance. So, you can tie the edge of your somen noodles using cooking twine. This helps the noodles to stay in one direction as they cook. But, you can skip this step when cooking at home.
  2. Boil water in a large pot, and then add the noodles once the water has boiled. Use chopsticks to stir the noodles, as this prevents them from sticking together. Now, follow the packing instructions as you cook.
  3. Once done, drain the noodles in a colander and then wash them with your hands under running water.
  4. When the noodles are cold, find the knotted parts, pick them, cut off the edge, and discard it. Hold together the bundle, and then arrange it well in a serving place. You can serve the noodles with ice, especially when you want to keep them cool.
  5. Lastly, you need to prepare the dipping sauce. To do this, grate your ginger, and cut the scallion finely, and then put them in dishes. Next, add the menstuyu in small bowls and dilute with cold water. Add a small portion of ginger and scallion in the dipping sauce.

Hiyamugi

Hiyamugi noodles are a bit thicker than somen noodles and thinner than udon noodles, but they resemble both these noodle types. In addition, they are someplace in between udon and somen in terms of their size.

Hiyamugi noodles from japan

These noodles are served just like udon or somen. Also, they are at times not only white but also mixed with green or pink-colored noodles.

Hiyamugi with Sesame Dipping Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 inches Japanese or Taiwanese cucumber – 2 (thinly sliced)
  • A pinch of salt
  • White sesame paste – 2 tbsp
  • Dashi soy sauce (mentsuyu/soba tsuyu) – 1
  • Soy sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Mirin – 1 tbsp
  • White sesame seeds – 1 tbsp Roasted (optional)
  • Hiyamugi noodles – 3 bundles

Directions

  1. You will need three bundles of the Hiyamungi noodled to prepare the sauce.
  2. Sprinkle some salt over your sliced cucumbers, give them a good mix, and then set them aside.
  3. Mix the dashi soy sauce, sesame paste, mirin, soy sauce, and ½ cup water in a small pot, and then allow them to boil. You should cook this for around 3 minutes, as you whisk gently to allow the sesame paste to incorporate with the rest of the liquid.
  4. Once done, pour the mixture in a different container, and then add the remaining ½ cup of water.
  5. Rinse your salted cucumbers and make sure that you squeeze them to remove the excess water. Add the cucumbers to the sesame mixture, and then chill them in a refrigerator for around 20 minutes.
  6. Cooking the noodles—boil water in a large stockpot (half full). Add your noodles at once, and then cook according to the packaging directions. Stir the noodles occasionally to prevent them from clumping together. When done, rinse the noodles under cold running water and allow them to drain well.
  7. Serve on plates and sprinkle sesame seeds if desired.
  8. Serve with the sesame dipping sauce on the side.

Shirataki

Also known as konnyaku noodles. These noodles don’t have calories, and this has increased their popularity as a weight-loss dish. Shirataki noodles are thin and translucent and are made out of konjac yam, and they have high fiber content and low carb and calorie count.

Translucent Shirataki noodles

Because of this fact, these noodles don’t have any flavor when eaten alone, but they are very versatile as they can prepare different dishes. Shirataki noodles have turned out to become very popular in other places, outside japan.

Even though shirataki noodles are prepared in a similar manner like any other Japanese noodles, they are traditionally used as nikujaga, sukiyaki, as well as other stewed dishes.

Stir-Fried Shrimp Shirataki Noodles

Ingredients

  • Shirataki noodles – 16 oz
  • Cooking oil – 1 Tbsp
  • Shrimp – 8 oz
  • Shredded cabbage – 2 cups
  • Hot water – ¼ cup
  • 1 small carrot peeled and shredded

Aromatics:

  • Garlic – 3 cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 stalk green onion separate green and white, thinly sliced
  • Fresh ginger – ½ tsp finely chopped

Seasoning:

  • Soy sauce – 2 Tbsp (add more to taste)
  • Oyster sauce – 1 Tbsp
  • Sugar – ½ tsp

Directions

  1. Boil your noodles in a large saucepan, and make sure that you stir them occasionally. Once done, drain the water and then rinse them under running cold water and set them aside.
  2. Next, preheat a large or medium pan with some oil. Add garlic, ginger, and white part of green onion. Stir for around one minute, and then add the shredded cabbage. Then, stir-fry for around 2 minutes.
  3. Pour a ¼ cup of water and continue cooking until the cabbage wilts. Now, add the carrots and stir-fry for an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Add your shrimp now, and stir-fry until it turns pink. Next, add the shirataki noodles, pour your seasonings, and then stir-fry until you get a good mix.
  5. Add some extra soy sauce—if needed.
  6. Garnish with the green part of sliced onions.
  7. Serve immediately.

Read more: a nice and healthy kelp and noodle recipe

Bottom Line

There you go! These are the most famous Japanese noodles and you should definitely try one of these recipes. Be assured that you will have the best and delightful moment.