How to Cook Glass Noodles
If you’ve ever been to a well-stocked Asian grocery store, you’ll find that the noodle aisles pretty much dwarf what most Americans are used to when it comes to noodles. Hundreds upon hundreds of noodles! Most markets will have noodles made from every substance that one could make a noodle out of and in pretty much every possible shape.
It’s a true paradise, but can also cause selection paralysis.
So, let’s narrow it down to one of my favorite types of noodle: Glass noodles! If you’ve ever had a good Vietnamese noodle salad, they might be using a glass noodle, which is a pretty broad phrase in itself.
Glass noodles get their name from the fact that when they cook, they turn almost clear. It’s a beautiful noodle that can be used in a huge range of dishes from soups to salads to stir-fries.
Here’s my quick intro to the glass noodle and three ways that I use it to make fast meals!
What are Glass Noodles?
As someone who is still learning about Asian cuisine and ingredients, I have an almost impossible time telling the difference between glass noodles and rice noodles. Sure, I can tell them apart once they are cooked, but in the package they look almost identical to me.
So, I always take a peek at the ingredients. Rice noodles will obviously have rice as the primary ingredient. Glass noodles will be some mix of potato starch and mung bean starch. I’ve never seen these starches in their raw form, but man can they make one cool noodle!
Glass noodles come in a variety of thicknesses, but I usually like a smaller diameter of noodle which is very versatile. That said, I don’t usually go for the thinnest noodle in the aisle because it’s really thin. On this day I picked one labeled vermicelli which is about right.
This is what it looks like once i pulled it out of the package. They kind of spring all over the place so get ready!
There are really three ways to cook these noodles. Let’s dive in!
Boiling Glass Noodles
You might think that this is the easiest way to cook these noodles but it’s actually not. Boiling them for too long can really break them down (although glass noodles are sturdier than other noodles).
If you do want to boil them, 2-3 minutes will do the trick.
To be honest, I find boiling them to be a bit too harsh. The only time I boil noodles like this is if I’m adding them to a soup. I’ll toss a handful into a broth near the very end of cooking and it’ll round out a soup. No need to cook them separately!
If I’m using the noodles for a salad or other base, then I almost always…
Soak Glass Noodles
This is my preferred way to prepare glass noodles. Just add them to a large bowl and cover them with very hot water. Let them soak anywhere from 5-15 minutes. The longer they soak the more they will expand. They are much sturdier than you would think if prepared in this way and even after 15 minutes of soaking you’ll have really beautiful noodles that are perfect for tossing with a salad or something.
Once you drain your noodles, I recommend tossing them with some sesame oil or something to keep them from sticking!
Stir-Frying Glass Noodles
Stir-frying glass noodles is a great way to use leftover noodles. You have to either boil or soak them before you stir-fry them so it’s rarely the first way I’ll prepare the noodles. It’s an easy process though and I think the noodles stir-fry better than rice noodles. Add them to a hot skillet with a drizzle of oil (coconut or vegetable oil) and then add in any other add-ins you want. I usually go for a scrambled egg and then some soy sauce.
If cooked correctly, the glass noodles stay completely separate and basically soak up whatever flavor you serve them with.
In the winter, I’ll add these noodles to all types of warming dishes from soups to stir-fries and in the summer I’ll soak them and add them to cold noodle salads.
Glass noodles are a cheap and super easy ingredient to add to your cooking repertoire.
Are these something you’ve used before? Leave a comment!