Rice noodles are much more delicate and fragile than their wheat noodle counterparts. This actually makes them so easy to prepare that we hardly think of it as cooking.
Place all your rice noodles in a deep mixing bowl, trying to snap as few of them as possible as you remove them from the package (always a challenge for us). Bring a good amount of water to boil. Pour the boiling water over the rice noodles until they are completely submerged.
Every minute or two, give the noodles a stir to loosen them up. When they are completely limp, give them a taste to see if they’re cooked through. The thread-like vermicelli noodles used in spring rolls will cook through in just a few minutes. The flat rice noodles might take upwards of ten minutes depending on thickness. Pay attention and test the noodles frequently because they’ll become mushy if they overcook.
Once the noodles are tender, drain them and run them under cool water to stop the cooking. Toss them with a bit of sesame oil to keep the noodles from sticking to each other if you’re not going to use them right away.
• If the noodles will be used in a stir-fry dish like pad thai, you definitely want to under-cook them a bit. They will absorb more moisture and cook the rest of the way through once in the stir fry. If your noodles are perfectly cooked to start, they will turn to mush in the stir fry. Trust us, we’ve done that more times than we can count!
• If you’re making a soup, you can cook the noodles directly in the broth. Add them just before serving and monitor closely to make sure they don’t over-cook.
• Even with a bit of sesame oil, the noodles still tend to clump up after you drain them. They will loosen again once you mix the noodles into your dish.
What other tips do you have for cooking with rice noodles?
(Image: Emma Christensen)