Are you trying to figure out how to cook rice noodles for that perfect texture and flavor? We’re here to help demystify this common Asian ingredient.
Rice noodles are a staple in many Asian countries and are often used in stir-fries, soups, and other dishes. When prepared correctly, they're the perfect balance of light and chewy.
If you've never cooked with rice noodles before, don't worry — they're very easy to prepare. Just follow the simple steps outlined in this post, and you'll be on your way to enjoying delicious rice noodles in no time.
How Do You Cook Rice Noodles?
Rice noodles are very easy for home cooks to make — simply soak them in warm water (not cold water, not hot water) for 10-15 minutes, or until they are soft. Unlike wheat pasta, you don't need to boil rice noodles; the warm water is enough to cook them through.
Once they are soft, you can drain them and add them to your stir-fry, soup, or another dish. Be sure to cook them thoroughly before eating, as uncooked rice noodles can be a bit chewy.
What Tools Do You Need To Cook Rice Noodles?
All you need to cook rice noodles is a pot of warm water and a bowl or colander for draining them. If you're using them in a stir-fry or soup, you'll also need your usual cooking supplies like a wok or pot and a spatula.
Why Don't You Boil Rice Noodles?
Cooking fresh rice noodles in boiling water can make them too soft and mushy. Soaking them in warm water is a gentler way to cook them and results in perfectly cooked noodles every time.
How Do You Know When Rice Noodles Are Done?
Once the noodles have soaked for 10-15 minutes, they should be soft and pliable. To test, simply take a strand of noodle and bite it — it should be tender but still have some chewiness to it — sort of like al dente Italian pasta.
What If My Rice Noodles Are Too Soft?
If your noodles are too soft, they may be overcooked. Next time, try soaking them for a shorter period of time — five to 10 minutes should do the trick.
What If My Rice Noodles Are Too Hard?
If your noodles are too hard, they may not have been soaked long enough. Try soaking them for a longer period of time — up to 20 minutes.
What Do Perfect Rice Noodles Taste Like?
Rice noodles have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that pairs well with many different dishes. While they are most often used in savory dishes like stir-fries and soups, they can also be the main ingredient in sweet desserts like mango pudding.
What's the Best Way To Store Rice Noodles?
Rice noodles can be stored in the pantry, just like other types of pasta. To maximize their freshness, be sure to store them in an airtight container.
Cooked rice noodles can be stored in the fridge for up to three days, or in the freezer for up to two months.
How Are Rice Noodles Made?
Rice noodles are made from rice flour, water, and salt. The rice flour is mixed with water to form a dough, which is then extruded through a die to create long, thin noodles.
The noodles are then cut to the desired length and dried. Drying can be done in a number of ways, including air-drying, sun-drying, or using a dehydrator.
Once the noodles are dry, they can be stored for extended periods of time — up to several months in some cases.
What Are the Types of Rice Noodles?
There are many different types of rice noodles available on the market, ranging from wide flat noodles to skinny vermicelli-style noodles. The type of noodle you use will depend on your personal preferences and the dish you're making.
Here's a brief rundown of the most common types of rice noodles:
- Rice stick noodles: These are the most common type of rice noodle and can be found in most Asian markets. They are thin and round and vary in length from four inches to 12 inches.
- Vermicelli noodles: Also known as rice vermicelli or bean threads, these noodles are very thin — about the thickness of a piece of thread. They can be used in soups, spring rolls, stir-fries, or can even be even deep-fried for a crispy snack.
- Flat rice noodles: Also called rice sheets or banh pho, these noodles are flat and wide, ranging in width from two to four inches. They are commonly used in Vietnamese dishes like pho.
- Rice flour noodles: These noodles are made from rice flour and water, and are gluten-free. They are very fine and delicate and can be used in soups or stir-fries.
What Dishes Commonly Feature Rice Noodles?
As we mentioned, rice noodles are commonly used in Asian cuisine. Some of the most popular dishes that feature them include:
- Chicken with Peanut Noodles: A stir-fry dish inspired by a more classically prepared Pad Thai. This dish is commonly made with shrimp, thin rice noodles, chicken, or tofu. Pad Thai is a beloved street food in Thailand and enjoyed all over the world.
- Rice Noodle Salad: A refreshing salad often made with beef, Thai noodles, vegetables, and a tangy sauce, this dish is perfect for a light lunch or side dish.
- Beef Chow Fun: A Cantonese dish made with beef, flat rice noodles, and vegetables, chow fun is a delicious way to enjoy rice noodles.
- Pho: A Vietnamese noodle soup made with beef or chicken broth, pho is often topped with fresh herbs and bean sprouts.
- Lo Mein: A Chinese dish made with fried noodles, vegetables and your choice of protein, lo mein is a takeout favorite.
What Ingredients Pair Well With Rice Noodles?
In addition to rice noodles, there are a few other ingredients that are commonly used in Asian cuisine. Here are a few of the most essential to keep in your kitchen for the next time you make rice noodles:
Asian Condiments To Pair With Rice Noodles
- Soy Sauce: A salty condiment made from fermented soybeans, soy sauce is used as a dipping sauce, marinade, or seasoning.
- Fish Sauce: A pungent condiment made from fermented fish, fish sauce is commonly used in Vietnamese and Thai dishes.
- Hoisin sauce: A sweet and savory sauce made from soybeans, sugar, and spices, hoisin sauce is often used as a dipping sauce or marinade.
- Sriracha: A spicy sauce made from chili peppers, sriracha is often used as a condiment or to add a kick of flavor to a dish.
Spices and Garnishes for Rice Noodles
- Ginger: A root with a sharp, slightly sweet flavor, ginger is often used in Asian dishes as a spice or seasoning.
- Garlic: A pungent, flavorful ingredient, garlic is commonly used in Asian cooking for its bold flavor.
- Green onions: Also known as "scallions," these are a type of onion with a milder flavor that is often used as a garnish or flavoring agent.
- Cilantro: A fresh herb with a slightly citrusy flavor, cilantro is often used as a garnish or to add flavor to a dish.
- Bean sprouts: These are the edible sprouts of mung beans, and are often used as a fresh garnish or addition to salads or soups.
- Nuts: Commonly used in Asian cuisine are peanuts, cashews, and almonds. They are often used as a garnish or to add flavor and texture to a dish.
- Fruit: Asian cuisine often features fresh fruit as a garnish or ingredient, such as mango, pineapple, or lychee.
Proteins and Veggies
- Vegetables: Common vegetables used with rice noodles include cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, and mushrooms.
- Meat: Asian cuisine often features chicken, beef, pork, and shrimp as main ingredients.
- Eggs: Often used as a protein or binding ingredient, eggs are commonly used in Asian dishes such as spring rolls, soups, and, of course, rice noodles.
- Tofu: A popular vegetarian protein option, tofu is made from soybeans and is often used in soups, stir-fries, and salads.
What Are Some of the Best Ways To Use Rice Noodles?
Now that you know how to make rice noodles and what ingredients are commonly used in Asian cuisine, it's time to get cooking! Here are a few of our favorite Asian recipes that feature rice noodles:
- Pork and Peanut Noodles:This recipe is made even more delicious by cucumber and fresh herbs. We can't get enough of it, and we're sure you'll love it, too!
- Shrimp and Avocado Noodle Bowl: This simple, yummy bowl is reminiscent of something you'd get at your favorite Japanese restaurant. It's bursting with flavor and is both healthy and hearty.
- Beef and Noodle Salad:Perfect for hot summer days, this salad is a dish we already mentioned in our list of common rice noodle-based recipes — but it bears repeating. Try it next time the weather gets hot and you're craving Asian cuisine.
Ready To Get Cooking?
Rice noodles are a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of Asian dishes. If you're looking to add some more flavor to your cooking, be sure to give them a try.
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