Both at home and on the menu, we regularly encounter some confusion: when exactly do you use pasta and when do you use noodles? And is there really an essential difference between pasta and noodles, or can we just as well drape our bolognese over a portion of soba noodles in the absence of spaghetti?
We’ll explain it to you once and for all.
The difference between pasta and noodles
The discussion already arises at the origin of the word: ‘pasta’, according to many a proud Italian, comes from (surprise!) Italy. However, historians tell us that it was the Arabs who introduced pasta to the Italian island of Sicily. Anyway, ‘paste’ translates to ‘dough’ or ‘paste’ (the liquid one) and refers to the process.
The name ‘noodle’, on the other hand, originates in Germany, derived from ‘Nudel’. But the first evidence of an actual bowl of noodles? It dates back to 4000 years ago, in China.
Let’s dive a little further into the product: Italians have at least claimed the recipe for pasta: pasta is almost always made from durum wheat, water and egg.
Noodles, on the other hand, are made from wheat, but – depending on the type of noodle – also from buckwheat, rice, mung beans or (sweet) potato. Salt can be added in the base of both, but, depending on the recipe, makes the difference during cooking or as part of the sauce.
The cooking process
Dried or fresh: noodles and pasta need to be cooked. Cooking pasta requires moisture and focus: al dente is a worldwide concept for a reason. Whatever you do: never overcook your pasta, but certainly not too short. Noodles, depending on the type, on the other hand, are just as delicious fried or in a steaming bowl of soup as they are boiled and stir-fried.
It does apply to both: the structure and shape influence other ingredients and therefore often require a different recipe. Unless you have the creativity and courage of David Chang, who stepped on many an Italian toe with his Cacio e pepe based on – yes – ramen.
Make brilliant pasta with this favorite kitchen hack from Jamie Oliver
Varieties of pasta and noodles
In both categories, countless (divinely delicious) varieties can be found all over the world. Whereas we used to associate pasta mainly with Italy (not a week goes by without spaghetti, penne, rigatoni and so on), we now like to fill our stomachs at least as much with Polish pierogi’s or Greek orzo.
And noodles, well noodles, do you have a minute? This blissful category features legendary strains ranging from Japanese ramen to Chinese biang biang noodles.
Are pasta and noodles interchangeable? The conclusion
Don’t just exchange a pasta for noodles or vice versa. Each type has its own method of preparation and each form flourishes through a suitable recipe.
What we can conclude anyway: a life without pasta or noodles is like a nightmare without clothes: cold and stressful. We can continue to discuss origin, meaning and form, the fact remains that both noodles and pasta make life a lot more beautiful.
Wow: a new type of pasta has been invented (and it’s pico bello)