Hello everyone! I have written and posted a number of blog posts ranging from the history of rice and rice varieties to the best kinds of rice cookers but had yet to dwell on rice noodles. This is why for this particular post, I’m going to tackle on how to cook rice noodles. The best way of cooking it that is. We don’t want mushy rice noodles, right? 😉
What are Rice Noodles
Rice noodles, as the name suggests, are but one variety of noodles most widely known as a particular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Its main ingredients are rice flour and water but sometimes added with tapioca and corn starch to improve its transparency and chewy texture that rice noodles are famous for.
Rice noodles can come in various shapes and sizes from the thin and fine vermicelli to ¼ inch noodle fettuccine.
How Does Rice Noodles Differ From Other Noodles
There is one important aspect of rice noodles that differ from other noodle types. Since its principal ingredient is rice flour, rice noodles are considered gluten-free.
So what exactly is gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein which “helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together” (Celiac Disease Foundation in Celiac.org). It’s actually tolerable for the majority of people except for the gluten-sensitive and/or wheat allergic particularly those with celiac disease. People who have this health condition react poorly when in contact with gluten.
Now this is where rice noodles come into picture. Since preventing consumption of gluten is advisable for the celiac, rice noodles will be a great alternative for them especially the noodle-based food lovers.
On the other hand, in terms of other nutrients, rice noodles kind of lacks in the mineral and protein area compared to e.g. brown rice. However, there is an aspect that people love about rice noodles – it has a lesser amount of carbohydrate content.
Rice noodles has about 44 grams of carbs while regular pasta has about 63 grams (Wolf in JillianMichaels.com). So if you want to go on a low-carb diet or if you want to eat just a considerable amount of carbs then rice noodles is a better option than your regular pasta.
A little note: Although rice noodles is gluten-free and has lesser carbs, it still depends on the way you cook and serve it.
What are the Do’s and Don’ts of Cooking Rice Noodles
Since rice noodles are more delicate, they are easier to prepare than wheat noodles. However, being this fragile gives it a higher tendency of producing mushy and soggy noodles when cooked wrong and too long.
When cooking regular wheat noodles or pasta, we are used to it being cooked on pot over a stove with the water boiled until noodles become soft. This way of cooking is not recommended with rice noodles. Why? Well its delicateness will result to a gloppy mess when soaked on boiled water too long!
Now another particular notion of cooking rice noodles which can be mostly seen in the outside packets of your noodle packages, is to soak it in cold water. Again, this way of preparing rice noodles is not recommended since it’ll take way too long and by the time the noodles become soft, its chewy texture is washed away. We don’t want its chewy texture to disappear since it’s the best part in rice noodles!
So with all these don’ts in cooking rice noodles…
What Really is the Best Way to Cook It?
The best method is to soak it in very hot water. Every minute or two, stir the noodles to loosen them up. When they are tender enough, drain them then run them in cool water. You can add sesame oil when you’re not using it right away so as not to make the noodles stick together.
Watch the video below to see how it’s done:
Now this soaking method is effective in dried rice noodles and just varies in the sizes of noodles.
For thin rice noodles, you may need to soak it 1 to 5 minutes on hot water until soft. For thicker rice noodles, a longer waiting time is necessary to make sure it becomes soft and stays chewy. Thus, soak it 8-10 minutes in hot water and stir occasionally.
Fresh rice noodles is another case. Unlike dried ones, this type usually requires no soaking. Blanching the noodles briefly for 1-2 minutes in boiling water then draining them and running them in cool water is the best way for this type of rice noodles.
Pancit Bihon Guisado: A Filipino Rice Noodle Recipe
There are many recipes available that you can have with rice noodles. One such recipe that is all too popular in the Philippines is the Chinese-Filipino dish called pancit bihon guisado.
The etymology of the dish’s name itself is actually referring to the way of cooking it. Pancit means noodles and adding the word bihon to it makes it refer to the thin vermicelli type rice noodles. Guisado, on the other hand, particularly refers to a way of cooking that is sautéing. When these are add together, we get “sautéed rice noodles” as an English equivalent of pancit bihon guisado.
I chose this recipe mainly for its versatility. You can actually tweak your pancit bihon guisado for a delicious spin that will suit your taste.
What I’m going to share with you all today is the easy procedure of cooking it with its very basic ingredients.
- 3 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 small red/white onion chopped
- ¼ kilo pork slices (thin slices)
- Carrot (cut into strips)
- Cabbage (cut into strips)
- Soy sauce
- Cooking oil
- Lime or calamansi
How to cook it, step by step:
- When pan is heated, add cooking oil.
- Add the garlic, onion, pork, carrots, and cabbage on the pan then sauté. Note that the meat is cut into thin slices and the carrots and cabbage into strips for easier sautéing.
- On a separate pan, cook the rice noodles (refer to the procedure on the best way of cooking rice noodles).
- Add the cooked rice noodles onto the pan of sautéed ingredients.
- Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Do another round of sautéing until rice noodles is mixed in with the goodness of the sautéed meat recipe.
- Serve with lime or calamansi for best results.
There you have it! Instant rice noodle recipe goodness.
Now with all these rice noodle facts, I hope you get to try them in your household for a gluten-free healthy meal 🙂 If you like rice, I recommend you my other post where I described the best way to cook basmati rice.
Oh and remember to share your experiences of cooking rice noodles down on the comments below. We would love to hear about it. Enjoy your meal! 🙂