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May 7, 2010 03:05 AM

Best way to cook rice noodles

Hello! I'm making a Vietnamese feast tonight and I want to know whether it is better to cook rice noodles by soaking them in cold water for 30 minutes and then boiling for a few minutes?
Or just boil them straight out?


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  1. Last night I cooked mine like a wheat pasta ( I don't know the brand name) .Try to soak first and if that don't work ,cook them in a gentle boil .Mine were not flat but a rice vermicelli

    2 Replies
    1. re: scunge

      Thanks! Should I soak them in cold water or boiling water?

      1. re: eviemichael

        boil them straight away but take care that they don't stick together when you're done. rice noodles aren't like wheat noodles and tend to be gummier and will stick if you're not careful.

    2. I soak my rice vermicelli or my bean thread noodles (these are different noodles) in hot water for about 15-20 minutes.

      1. Like scunge, I just boil mine straight in lightly salted water.

        In terms of the clumping problem, I make sure to stir them when they go in the boiling water, and after I drain them, I refresh with cold water (washes off excess starch I think which is what makes them gluey) and toss with a couple drops of flavourless oil. Never have a problem if I do that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gooseberry

          I think Chow's idea is applicable, wanna try it out now. Thank you for sharing.

        2. Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! Rice noodles! Depends on what I'm serving them with, but my very favorite way to cook them is to deep fry them in very hot peanut oil. They're like popcorn. They explode! Very airy with a nice crunch. I like to serve stir fried and sauced foods on top of them. The parts of the noodles the sauce comes in contact with softens and reverts to the texture of boiled noodles, but the bits that escape the sauce stay crunchy. But it's a light crunch. Love it!

          1. For Pad Thai at least, soak the noodles in COLD water for 30-60 min. Cook them up in a wok with oil (peanut is best.) You can toss in a little water and get a little boil/steam going on to cook them evenly.

            soaking in warmer to hot water, cooks the exterior of the noodles and makes them mushy and clumpy when you cook them. Soak in hot, and you just get glop.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Russel Shank

              I've never had "glop" from soaking noodles in hot water for 15-20 minutes. As a matter of reference, many Asian cookbooks I own recommend handling the noodles in that manner, and I've done it that way for years. Whether you soak them in cold for 60 minutes or hot for 15, you get the same result.

              All due respect to you, but I disagree and my feeling is that you haven't tried the hot water method, or you would have not made such an inaccurate gloppy statement.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                That's actually how I used to cook them -- 20+ minute soak in super hot tap water. I was exaggerating using the word "glop", but if the exterior is too cooked before hand, and they're cooked too long in the wok, my experience is that they stick more and generally clup. It's not a big deal, but the noodles don't get even coated with the flavors. At least with pad thai width rice noodles, using cold water has made the noodles less sticky, and not limp -- not overcooked. It's the best way to get them a little 'al dente'

                1. re: Russel Shank

                  Well,ok, I guess your tap water is hotter than mine. ;-}}

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    Yeah, probably -- single home newer water heater vs an older bklyn or building furnance. Hey, random question.. do you go to Roberta's on Moore ever?

                    1. re: Russel Shank

                      Yes, yes I do. Pretty good, I must say, especially compared to what else is available in this neighborhood, pizza-wise. I don't live that close, though, Bushwick is rather large.

                      I think our water heater is set at 120°.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        Cool, just curios, two of my friends run it.

                        Anyway, weird aside -- I just read a recipe for a restaurant here in D.C. that does good Pad Thai, and they suggest soaking in warm for 4-5 hours, so who knows

                        Thai Basil, a pretty well known place in the suburbs here, is where I got the cold/60min directions. The owner lady is really good and cool, and was Bobby Flay competition on his Pad Thai Throwdown show.

                        I dunno. i give up.

                        I tried looking for my preferred noodle package, so we could beef over that, but I can't find an image. I'll state here and now though, that the one with green ink and the word "Oriental" written on it somewhere, is the supreme noodle.

                        1. re: Russel Shank

                          "two of my friends run it." That's nice, I think they're doing quite well there and have been well rated. The place is a breath of fresh air in a culinary void. Actually, Bushwick does have a few decent restaurants and good little Mexican spots, all quite far from me.8-(

                          I saw that Throwdown. I believe she won, right? Bobby gets his butt handed to him on Throwdown most of the time, anyway.

                          OK, I have my favorite brand as well, pink lettering, but I will look for the green ink with "Oriental" written on it. I have these right now but they're bean threads and I soak them for less time than the thin rice noodles:


                          I also have thick rice noodles (rice sticks) and soak them for about 30-40 minutes before using.

                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                            Yeah, I have actually yet to visit it.. really shitty friend. I hear all about it though, pretty crazy how its taken off. food looks great. I spent a little bit of time in bwick, more wburg i guess, at manhattan & bway. Anyway, its too bad their giant new farm couldn't work out in the neighborhood. It turns out they're doing it in Long Island City(? -- but I thought I heard Queens also) or something now. I saw the google map of where they are on Moore and it looked so empty.. would have been a really cool addition to the neighborhood i bet. It might end up happening again if the property owner's finances steady out, who knows.

                            An old Vietnamese lady swore by the green ink package, I've never messed w/ anything but rice noodles -- I think I bought tapioca on accident once. I'll give bean threads a shot -- are they radically different taste/texture?

                            If you like playing with rice noodles and sweet thai dishes, try cooking Mee Krob/Grob sometime. It uses the angel hair looking rice noddle bundles, and its fun to cook b/c the bundle goes straight into a puddle of hot oil and blows up like a sponge toy instantaneously, toss sauce then its done. I don't think you soak (forget.) Its super impressive if you have a friend watching, like its a magic trick (so you can fake being a serious pro.)

                            1. re: Russel Shank

                              Long Island City is in Queens. Sad they couldn't may a go of the garden here. Moore Street is not so great an area. I'll have to read my What up Bushwick blog archives to see if there's any scuttlebutt.

                              Bean thread and rice noodles aren't radically different, taste wise. The appearance and texture is somewhat different; bean threads are more slippery and transluscent than rice noodles. Bean threads become crispy when deep fried and can be twice the price of rice noodles, which is to say, still not very expensive. If you buy them, make sure they're 100% mung bean flour. I use them in spring rolls or soup. Deep frying them is quite a spectacular sight.

                              I saw the making of rice paper wrappers on Bourdain recently; the rice noodle and rice paper making process is labor instensive, to say the least.

                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                Their own blog has something about it -- apparently the building owner, despite his enthusiasm for the project, got cold feet after the financial crisis rocked him. They're in LIC now, but if all goes well and it makes economic sense (and they can fund raise again), I don't see why they wouldn't try Moore again when the prop owner is more settled. They really dig the area and I know they'd prefer it (or any big farm) be in their hood. That said, LIC's spot is like 40k sq feet... they may be busy for a while.

                                Hmn, sounds interesting. The angel hair-like rice noodles/thread I mentioned sound similar to this in how they cook. There was this really awesome spring role I had in Berlin (a 'hip' viet place) that used a super thin crispy noodle as their wrapper (like they'd soaked then smushed and rolled it into a wrapper.) It was so clever, super crispy, and didn't have that typical tough wrapper feel (like edible terrycloth and came out white) -- I wonder if it was mung bean. If I play around and find out that that's the case, i'll let you know. It really was cool, and it absorbed way less oil b/c the wrapper was ultra porous.

                                1. re: Russel Shank

                                  Wow, 40K sq. ft., that's big. LIC has rather large warehouse type buildings in certain areas, Bushwick not so much, many warehouses are condo conversions now. I'll check their blog. Thanks for the info.

                                  Possibly it was a rice paper wrapper, they're very thin, brittle, fragile and are very crispy when pan fried. They have to be soaked before using, I soak mine in beer, filled with various things and served cold or the aformentioned pan fried. Good stuff: