Like tofu and rice, noodles are a staple in Asian cuisine. Because of its neutral flavor, many consider it a versatile food base that you can enjoy as a soup dish, a stir fry, or even as a cold appetizer. Thai cuisine’s chicken pad thai and Japanese cuisine’s ramen are only some of the best examples of tasty noodle dishes. While each dish uses a specific type of noodle, many of them are based on two notable noodle types: rice noodles and egg noodles. Understanding what sets these two apart can help you cook them to their best culinary potential.
So, rice noodles vs egg noodles: what’s their difference? Read on to find out!
What Is the Difference Between Rice Noodles vs Egg Noodles?
Rice noodles are essentially noodles made of rice flour and water. However, some noodle makers add tapioca starch or cornstarch to make it chewier and more transparent in color. Withstanding almost 2,000 years since its dated discovery in China, rice noodles now come in different varieties. One of them is the dried version called vermicelli noodles or rice sticks. Dishes like mei fun and chow fun usually use this type of noodles.
On the other hand, we have egg noodles. The egg noodle is created by combining eggs, wheat flour, water, and salt. Eggs are basically what gives egg noodles their golden yellow hue. It was said to be discovered way back during the Han dynasty in China. However, Italians also claim to have developed this food wonder. But no matter who created it, one thing is for sure: it is as fun to make as it is fun to eat! A quick and easy egg noodle recipe is something you can follow if you want to try making these noodles. Use this in creating your Hokkien noodles or Thai egg noodles.
Overall, whether it’s stir-fried or soup, noodle dishes are known as perfect comfort foods. If you still can’t choose between these two noodles, read on, and let’s help you decide.
Rice noodles are transparent in color and become white and opaque once cooked. The most popular variety that you’ll usually find in your local grocery is the dried version. Usually, it looks like thin, round strips. It’s string-like — thinner than a pasta noodle. But there are also long, flat varieties available in the market.
On the other hand, egg noodles are usually golden yellow, though the size and shape of their noodles usually vary. The most common shapes of egg noodles include bow-shaped, thin, and stringy ones. Japanese and Chinese cuisine typically have long flat strips, while Germans cuisine usually uses shorter and thicker ones.
Taste and Texture
Flavorwise, rice noodles have a more basic, neutral flavor. And just like rice, its bland taste makes it a perfect food base that you can pair with different dishes like curries, soups, or as a Thai basil stir fry noodle. If you wonder why it’s so easy to slurp down rice noodles, that’s because chefs usually add tapioca or cornstarch when making rice noodles to create a smoother and chewy texture.
In contrast, egg noodles have a slightly salty and savory flavor. The slight hint of savory, rich taste comes from the eggs, one of the main ingredients in making these noodles. On the other hand, the salty flavor of egg noodles comes from salt. Noodle masters add it to help strengthen the dough structure of their noodles, making its texture more springy and chewy.
Rice Noodles vs Egg Noodles: Nutritional Value
Knowing the nutritional value of the food we consume and even our options is essential. So, are rice noodles and egg noodles healthy?
Judging by the caloric count alone, we can say that rice noodles are healthier than egg noodles. Generally, rice noodles are lower in calories, protein, and fat than egg noodles. One serving of plain rice noodles (without condiments and other ingredients) contains about 187 calories. It is a low-fat food, with only 0.4 grams of fat per serving, and has 3.1 grams of protein. Carbs in rice noodles range from 41 to 43.8 grams.
On the other hand, a serving of plain egg noodles (without condiments and other ingredients) has 221 calories. It has 3 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein. Carbs in egg noodles are relatively high, with around 40 grams per serving, but still a tad lower than rice noodles.
In general, the answer to which is healthier between rice noodles and egg noodles all depends on you. Considering the calories is only but a small part of defining what is healthy for your body. If you are looking for a low-fat and low-protein option that you can add to your diet, then go for rice noodles. On the other hand, egg noodles are great if you are on a protein-rich diet. Just be careful when it comes to the ingredients you will pair to cook these noodles — using butter and other fatty oils when cooking or stir-frying affects its nutritional content.
Rice Noodles & Egg Noodles: Gluten-Free and Vegan?
Almost, but not all, rice noodles are gluten-free. Rice flour, tapioca starch, and cornstarch are all gluten-free starches. Rice noodles are also vegan-friendly food made from plant-based ingredients. So, if you are on a gluten-free diet or are vegan, you can include most rice noodles in your meal plans. However, there are also variations that are not gluten-free. Some manufacturers add wheat flour or different types of starches to their rice noodles. Do take note of the ingredients used the next time you buy rice noodles.
Are egg noodles gluten-free and vegan? Well, most egg noodles are made of wheat flour — which means they contain gluten. However, some manufacturers develop gluten-free varieties using alternatives like all-purpose gluten-free flour. This way, people who can’t consume gluten-rich products can still enjoy egg noodles. However, egg noodles are not vegan as it uses eggs as one of their main ingredients.
Can You Substitute Egg Noodles for Rice Noodles?
Yes! You may use rice noodles as an egg noodles alternative and vice versa. It all depends on your preference. You can also cook them together. There are stir-fried noodle recipes that use both egg noodles and rice noodles. An example is the Miki Bihon dish. It uses Miki (fresh egg noodles) and bihon (rice noodle variety) stir-fried together with other meats and veggies.
Which Is Better, Rice Noodles or Egg Noodles?
Both have advantages and disadvantages, not only flavorwise but also healthwise. Some people like the bouncy texture and the different shapes and sizes that egg noodles offer. But if you are looking for one that is gluten-free and also chewy and slurpy, rice noodles have a wide range of varieties in the market that you can choose from. At the end of the day, it all comes down to preference — the taste, texture, nutritional value, and even appearance.