Ramen noodles are wheat-based Japanese noodles. In the United States, ramen noodles are typically sold pre-cooked and dried so they can be reconstituted quickly. The precooking generally involves frying the noodles, so ramen noodles tend to be high in fat. Noodles that are comparable to ramen can be used in place of ramen in soups and stir-fries, but they may have slight differences in taste or texture. The substitutes are usually not fried, so they will be lower in fat, and some are gluten-free.
Lo Mein Noodles
Lo mein noodles, sometimes called Cantonese noodles, are Chinese wheat and egg noodles that are usually served with a mixture of stir-fried vegetables and meat, tofu or shrimp. Lo mein noodles are the Chinese equivalent of ramen noodles. The word ramen is actually the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters for lo mein, which means "boiled noodles." Lo mein noodles can be found in both round and flat versions; either can be substituted for ramen noodles.
Saimin noodles are Hawaiian noodles that are served in a broth, the same way ramen noodles are. Saimin noodles are available in individual packages, with a flavouring packet, similar to ramen noodles, and are also available in bulk. Bulk saimin noodles can be found both fresh and dried. Dried saimin cooks as quickly as ramen -- in about three minutes -- but they are not deep fried, so they are lower in fat.
Unlike lo mein and saimin noodles, which contain eggs, soba noodles are made from only flour and water, like ramen. However, while ramen is made from wheat flour, soba noodles are made from a combination of buckwheat and wheat flour. They are round, like ramen noodles, and about the same diameter. Soba noodles are served in broth, like ramen, and are also commonly served cold with a dipping sauce.
Rice sticks, sometimes called rice stick noodles and rice flour noodles, are instant noodles made from rice flour and water. Most rice sticks are gluten-free, so they can be used instead of ramen by individuals on gluten-free diets. Unlike ramen noodles, rice sticks need to be pre-soaked in hot water before preparing, but only take about a minute to cook after they are soaked. Rice sticks can replace ramen noodles in soups and stir-fries.