A Shared Tradition: Egg Noodles

December 30, 2011

In her biweekly column, A Shared TraditionCIA grad and amateur food historian Molly Siegler cruises around the world (and into the depths of her pantry) to explore the versatility of a single food item. 

This week: Molly draws attention to some long-ignored recipes with egg noodles.

Buttered Corn and Noodles
Photo by Nicole Franzen

Molly

Egg noodles hold a special place in my heart. Not only were they the primary noodle of my childhood (I couldn’t wrap my head around macaroni, so that wasn’t much of an option), but my mother recently recounted memories of her grandmother, Gee Gee, who made and dried delicate egg noodles every few months. Gee Gee’s egg noodles hung from every chair in her house until it was time for dinner. Then, they were quickly cooked and tossed with buttery breadcrumbs for a delicious, simple weeknight meal.

In the realm of egg noodles, my motto is the thicker and shorter you go, the better. When I run into Amish Kitchen’s Extra Thick Kluski Egg Noodles, I stock up. Because they are pretty chewy and substantial, egg noodles are happiest in dishes where they gently compete with the other components (think: a rich, meaty Italian ragù). 

Jewish (Ashkenazi)
Noodle kugel is one of my favorite treats. My father-in-law and I hog it all whenever we happen upon it at a Jewish gathering.

  • Cottage cheese and eggs give this baked pudding its characteristic heft.
  • Cream cheese adds a little tanginess and fills in all the gaps between the curly noodles.
  • Warm spices allow the kugel to cruise from meal-to-meal. Whether your kugel is a side dish, dessert, or breakfast depends on how you spice it up!
  • Sour cream is the best kugel condiment (you'll notice that egg noodles have a slight addition to sour cream).

Chinese
Lo mein
(meaning simply "tossed noodles") is a dish ripe for experimentation.

  • Ginger, garlic, and scallions provide the base of most Chinese recipes.
  • Loads of seasonal veggies should be stir-fried before adding in your cooked egg noodles.
  • Rice wine vinegar adds a touch of brightness.
  • Shredded pork (or any leftover roasted meat) offers another texture and some protein.

Hungarian
"Waiter, there’s too much pepper on my paprikash." (When Harry Met Sally, anyone?) Chicken Paprikash is another classic dish begging for a seat at your winter table.

  • Chicken is slowly braised until its deeply flavorful and falling apart.
  • Paprika adds a nice dose of red, but it also contributes a pleasant bitterness and a little heat.
  • Tomatoes in paste and diced forms contribute mightily to this dish’s famous red hue and acidic bite.
  • Sour cream is essential to creating the paprikash’s smooth sauce.

Classic Americana
Egg noodles are a seriously important component in tuna noodle casserole.

  • High quality canned tuna should be used -- choose one packed in olive oil.
  • Mushrooms sautéed until lightly charred add a woodsy fragrance.
  • Roux is needed to achieve the thick, creamy texture supplied by cream of mushroom soup in the original recipe.
  • Breadcrumbs (or crushed potato chips) contribute a salty, buttery crunch atop the casserole. 

Chicken Paprikash Tuna Noodle Casserole
Paprikash ingredients; Tuna Noodle Casserole - Redux (photos by Sarah Shatz)

These are just a few of the ways I like to travel by way of the versatile egg noodle. What other regionally inspired flavors would you use to make this pantry staple your own? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Do you love a good food theme as much as I do? Tell me what food items or themes you'd like to see featured in this column and your idea could be the subject of an upcoming post!

Like this post? See Molly's previous topic: Beef Roast.

Molly is a chef and food educator living and cooking in Northern Wisconsin. When she's not dreaming up themed menus, she's dishing out other delicious content as the editorial assistant for the Whole Foods Market Cooking program.

Molly Head Shot
7 Comments Add a Comment
  • Missing_avatar

    Rivertree kitchen says: Molly, thanks again! I bought my Mrs. Miller's noodles at the grocery store, but hadn't searched them on the web/ Those squares are intriguing--and so inexpensive. I live in Waupaca, WI--where in northern WI are you, if you don't mind the question?

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
  • Missing_avatar

    Rivertree kitchen says: I just got some thick, homemade egg noodles that I've been using in soup. I loved the irony: they're "Mrs. Miller's Noodles" and Mrs. Miller is my married name.

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
  • Molly1bw

    molly's kitchen says: I just looked up Mrs. Miller's Noodles and all the varieties are a blast! The Pot Pie Squares seem extra fun. Thanks for sharing, Mrs. Miller. :)

    over 2 years ago
  • Missing_avatar

    Katy says: Noodle Kugel always sounds like something I would love but have never tried... can you add protein to it and make it a full meal? Or it is just for breakfast? Tell me!

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
  • Molly1bw

    molly's kitchen says: What a fun question! Noodle kugel is for every time of day in my book. :) You can adjust the seasonings and sugar to suit your purpose -- feel free to ditch the sugar altogether if you're interested in a savory kugel. In order to preserve the texture of the kugel while boosting the protein or nutrient content, try adding pureed sweet potato or squash, caramelized onions, or silken tofu. Please let me know what you come up with!

    over 2 years ago
  • Missing_avatar

    twhitemoffitt says: Hi Molly. Where's the recipe for the photo--corn, bacon, etc? It looks great!

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
  • Molly1bw

    molly's kitchen says: Hi twhitemoffitt! Doesn't it look extra yummy? It's this Buttered Corn and Noodles recipe -- http://www.food52.com/recipes/13643_buttered_corn_and_noodles

    over 2 years ago

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