We are laying out all of the rules for how to prepare rice noodles perfectly. To soak or not to soak? Room temperature or boiling water? To oil or not to oil? Rice noodles are delicate and if they are prepared incorrectly, they can very quickly become mush and ruin your dish. Here are the fool-proof ways that we have found works every time for these three popular rice noodle sizes.
- Flat Rice Noodles (Pad Thai Noodles)
- Wide Flat Rice Noodles
- Room temperature water
These are the thinnest of all rice noodles. They are popular in Vietnamese and Thai cuisines and can be used in salads, stir-fries, and soups. It has a coarse texture and is not as smooth as other noodles, which gives them an al dente texture.
Prepare a deep bowl filled with room-temperature water. Add the vermicelli to the water and soak for 3 minutes until it becomes opaque.
As you soak them, you can use your hands to pick the noodles apart to loosen it.
Strain the noodles. You will notice that they don't stick to each other.
You can use them within a few hours of re-hydrating them in stir-fries or salads by simply adding them to your pan or bowl. If you add them to a stir fry, you can use your spatula to carefully separate the noodles as you finish off your dish. These noodles keep well in dry dishes that don't have too much sauce or liquid and keep their texture even as leftovers.
If you want to use them in a noodle soup dish, bring your broth to a boil, add the noodles to the dish, and quickly turn off the heat. Serve immediately.
Flat Rice Noodles (Pad Thai Noodles)
Prepare a bowl filled with room-temperature water. Add the pad thai noodles to the bowl. Soak for 10 minutes. If the noodles are longer than the bowl, slowly bend them as they soften in the water so that they are eventually all submerged under the water.
Strain the noodles and run your fingers through them to prevent sticking. You can use a neutral oil like rice bran oil to coat the noodles if you won't use them right away.
Do not boil these noodles if you want to use them in stir-fries as they will get too mushy when you add them to the wok. You can add some water to your wok as you continue to cook your dish so that the noodles can gently cook in the steam.
If the noodles look like they are sticking even after coating them in oil. Do not worry, they will separate again once you add them to the pan.
If you are making noodle soup, blanch the noodles in hot water just enough to soften the noodles, but do not leave them in boiling water for more than 2 to 3 minutes. This will allow you to control the texture of the noodles, especially if you are not going to serve them right away.
If you are cooking noodle soup at home and plan to serve it straight away, you can boil the soaked noodles directly in the broth.
Fresh Wide Flat Rice Noodles
Rice noodles can also be found fresh and coated with a thin layer of oil. They are ready to use as you find them and can be added to stir-fries or soups.
Fresh rice noodles are more delicate than dried noodles and can be added to any dish in the final seconds of cooking. You can even turn off the heat altogether to make sure not to overcook the fresh rice noodles. We suggest that you toss your noodles carefully with a spatula to avoid over mixing.