What Are the Best Tips for Cooking Noodles in a Wok?

Eugene P.

There are a few tips that can help to make an easier process of cooking noodles in a wok. Some tips, such as adding noodles to the wok quickly after they have been softened, or drying the noodles before placing them in the wok, might not seem obvious at first. Other aspects, such as ensuring the wok is hot and pouring the oil into the pan just before adding the noodles, are fairly standard for cooking most foods in a wok. Just like other types of foods, it is important to keep the amount of noodles in a wok to a manageable level to ensure that they do not combine into a sticky lump or start to steam instead of fry, unless steamed noodles are what the recipe demands.

Soba noodles.
Soba noodles.

When cooking noodles in a wok, some types of noodles need to be parboiled, soaked or cooked before they are added to the wok. When particularly thick varieties such as udon noodles or soba noodles are cooked in boiling water, removing them from the water just before they are completely done will allow them to finish cooking in the wok. This helps to prevent the noodles from falling apart from overcooking and also gives the noodles a chance to absorb some of the flavors in the wok. Similarly, the noodles should be added to the pan as soon after they are done pre-cooking as possible, because they will absorb the maximum amount of flavor just after they are removed from the water and will not absorb as much if they are allowed to cool too much first.

Plate of cooked soba noodles.
Plate of cooked soba noodles.

Most types of noodles have starches that tend to rest on their surface. This allows sauces and other small ingredients to stick to noodles in a wok, but it also creates a situation in which the starches can burn or stick to the wok. The best way to cook noodles in a wok to avoid these problems is to add the noodles to a hot wok that has had cold oil added just before the noodles. The oil will act as a lubricant and can mitigate some of the excess starches, while the heat from the wok will work in much the same way to prevent sticking. If the noodles start to stick after a few minutes, then more oil can be added to lubricate the pan.

Shrimp and noodle dish stir-fried in a wok.
Shrimp and noodle dish stir-fried in a wok.

When a large amount of noodles is being stir-fried, it can be beneficial to add the noodles to the wok in small batches. Placing too many noodles in a wok can create a mass that will result in steamed noodles instead of stir-fried noodles. Adding a manageable amount of noodles to the wok also can ensure that each piece gets coated in some oil, reducing the likelihood that they will stick together.

In some instances, it can help to dry noodles when transferring them from water to a wok. This removes excess starches and will allow them to crisp faster, if that is the desired result. One trick is to reserve some of the liquid in which the noodles were soaked or boiled and add that starchy liquid to the wok if the sauce or noodles start to become too dry.

With its high smoking point and mild flavor, peanut oil is ideal for making noodle stir-fries in a wok.
With its high smoking point and mild flavor, peanut oil is ideal for making noodle stir-fries in a wok.

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Discussion Comments

Talentryto

This article has a lot of good information about cooking noodles in a wok, which can be tricky. There are several different types of noodles that are best for wok cooking, and cooking methods vary for each one. However, it is also important not to overcook them to prevent them from falling apart. Follow the instructions and remove your noodles from the wok as soon as they reach the desired consistency for a tasty meal with noodles that are cooked to perfection.

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