So you want to cook your favorite stir-fried noodles but only have spaghetti – they are pretty similar, right? Let’s look at what happens if you try to use spaghetti instead of noodles in your dishes.
You can use spaghetti in place of noodles in stir-fries by cooking it al dente and using plenty of oil in a hot pan or wok. You can also use spaghetti in noodle soup and Ramen, and any type of ribbon pasta will work such as linguine or tagliatelle.
There are a few tricks to preparing your spaghetti for your Asian dish and it may take a little longer to cook, so you will probably need to adjust your cooking time accordingly.
I’m going to take a look at some of the different methods and techniques in this article so that you have all the information you need to make your alternative Asian-Italian stir-fry.
Spaghetti Vs Noodles
Dried spaghetti is usually made from a mixture of semolina flour and water. Noodles are usually made from wheat flour and water, and include eggs if they are “egg noodles”.
Fresh pasta also has fresh egg in the mix and is very soft so I recommend using dried pasta over fresh in stir-fries.
There are not that many obvious differences between spaghetti and noodles, and in fact it’s not always easy to tell between the two, especially when cooked. This is also made more confusing as many people in the U.S. use the words ‘noodles’ and ‘pasta’ interchangeably, particularly for long thin varieties, e.g. ‘spaghetti noodles’.
Traditionally though, we usually think of different types of pasta as being used in Italian cooking and noodles for Asian cuisine such as Chinese and Japanese dishes, so let’s stick to that definition for this post.
Noodles tend to be slightly firmer than spaghetti but both can be cooked in similar ways. You will need to adjust your cooking times as noodles tend to cook quicker than pasta.
One main difference between dried spaghetti and noodles is the shape. Spaghetti is a thin, long string of pasta while noodles can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Dried noodles are usually purchased as tangled nests whereas spaghetti is packaged in long sticks.
Which Noodles Are Spaghetti Most Similar To?
Spaghetti is most similar to the standard egg noodles commonly used in Asian cuisines.
Egg noodles, or chow mein noodles (also known as E-fu noodles), are a type of noodle made with eggs, flour, and water. They come in many forms – thick and thin, fresh or dried, flat or round – making them versatile enough to be used in soups, salads, main courses, and more.
They cook very fast. All you need to do is boil the noodles before adding them to your dish or stir-frying them, much the same as spaghetti.
How To Use Spaghetti Instead Of Noodles
If you have dried spaghetti and want to make a stir fry or soup, there are a few simple steps to follow to get the best results.
Spaghetti In Stir Fry
Here are the basic steps to follow when using spaghetti in a stir-fry:
1. Boil the spaghetti in a pot of salted boiling water for 6-8 minutes, or until cooked but still slightly al dente to prevent them sticking.
2. Drain and rinse the spaghetti in cold water to stop further cooking.
3. Heat a wok or wide pan over high heat for a few mins. Add oil then your vegetables and proteins, stirring often until cooked through.
4. Add a little more oil if dry then add the cooked spaghetti to the pan and mix it all together.
5. Pour in some soy sauce or any other flavorings you wish to use, making sure everything is well coated.
6. Stir fry for a minute or two until the spaghetti is heated through then serve immediately.
There are several recipes I found that use spaghetti as an alternative to noodles – many even recommend them.
Here’s one I discovered for Asian Garlic Spaghetti Noodles that is easy and great for using up all those left-over veggies you have hanging around in the fridge. You can also serve it meat-free or use any meat you have such as shrimp, beef, or chicken.
- Related article: 13 Dishes That Use Frozen Stir-Fry Vegetables (With Recipes)
Spaghetti In Soup
For soups, you can break the dried spaghetti into thirds or keep it whole, and just start making your soup as normal. Once the liquid is simmering add the spaghetti and cook for a further 8-10 minutes or until the spaghetti is al dente.
This is a similar method to a Minestrone soup with Italian flavors but uses Asian flavors instead.
Spaghetti In Ramen
For ramen, the popular Japanese noodle soup, you will need a few extra steps as the noodles traditionally used have a distinct yellow color and springy bite. These are made with something called kansui which is basically a mixture of alkaline minerals.
To make ramen with spaghetti you will need to cook them in baking soda first. This will turn them into very convincing ramen noodles. Based on this article from Serious Eats you just add around 2 teaspoons of baking soda to a quart of water and bring it to a boil. Make sure you use a large enough pot as the water will probably fizz a bit.
As soon as it’s boiling add in your spaghetti and cook as normal but make sure you rinse it with cold water once cooked to get rid of any unwanted aftertaste.
You can then just add your ramen spaghetti to your favorite ramen broth recipe in place of noodles.
What Else Can You Use Instead Of Noodles?
Besides spaghetti, there are various types of pasta you can use in place of noodles such as:
- Angel Hair – this pasta is a much finer version of spaghetti.
- Fettuccine – a long and flat type of pasta that is quite wide.
- Linguine – similar to fettuccine but narrower.
- Tagliatelle – this pasta is a long, ribbon-shaped version similar to fettuccine.
- Vermicelli – a very long, thin-shaped pasta slightly thinner than spaghetti.
If you don’t have any long-shaped pasta or egg noodles in the cupboard, there are lots of other ingredients that can make for a delicious stir-fry such as rice, quinoa, couscous, and even cauliflower rice.
For soups, most grains work well as an alternative to noodles such as barley, farro, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and even shredded cabbage.
Just make sure you tweak your recipe accordingly depending on the type of ingredient you are using as some may require longer cooking times than noodles or pasta.
- Related: What Rice Is Best For Fried Rice? (And How To Prepare It)
So, if you’re looking for a delicious and easy alternative to regular noodles when cooking up an Asian dish, spaghetti makes a great substitute.
You can use it in soups, ramen, stir-fries, or even as the main component of your dish. Just make sure you cook it al dente before adding it to your dish for the best results.
And if you don’t have spaghetti, try using any type of long pasta that you have hiding in your store cupboard as many will work just as well.
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