Rice noodles are but one variety of noodle, and a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine.
What are they?
Rice noodles are often used in Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian cooking. They are made from rice flour, water and sometimes other ingredients such as tapioca or cornstarch are added to improve transparency or increase the chewy texture of the noodles.
Rice noodles can be bought in various widths such as rice sticks (long straight ribbons) and rice vermicelli (very thin noodles, thinner than spaghettini).
How do you use them?
Rice noodles are great for busy cooks as they hardly need any cooking. Once cooked, rice noodles can be used hot or cold in all sorts of Asian dishes from stir-fries to salads. Rice noodles are perfect for stir-fries as they soak up strong flavours often used in stir-fry sauces. Most rice noodles are gluten-free (check the label), making them an alternative to wheat noodles in recipes. They can be used as an accompaniment to curries as well as stir-fried meat and vege dishes.
Where can I buy them?
Find rice noodles in the supermarket aisle with other noodles and rice, or in the Asian foods section. A greater variety of noodles can be found in Asian supermarkets. There are often a few different thickness choices available. Rice noodles can also be called rice threads or sticks – depending on their thickness. Health food stores often sell rice noodles as gluten-free products.
Step 1 Place noodles in a large heatproof bowl.
Step 2 Pour over enough boiling water to completely cover noodles. Leave to soak for 4-8 minutes, depending on their thickness. Vermicelli or very thin noodles need 2-3 minutes to soak. Rice sticks need 6-7 minutes to soak.
Step 3 Drain noodles and use a fork or spatula to separate them. Use a little oil to prevent them sticking if not using immediately. Use as required.
Did you know? The name ‘vermicelli’ (literally ‘little worms’) can also refer to the noodle made from mung beans which is translucent when cooked. Rice vermicelli is opaque and white when cooked.