How Long to Soak Rice Noodles

In this brief article, we will be discussing how long to soak rice noodles. East Asian cuisine usually consists of rice noodles – hot or cold, in soups or salads, or rolled into spring rolls. Their light and chewy texture make them pleasantly more appetizing than the heavier wheat noodles. But most people don’t know how to soak them correctly.

So today’s article will help you learn how to cook rice noodles the right way!

How Long to Soak Rice Noodles?

Here’s how long you should properly soak both dried and fresh rice noodles. 

Dried Rice Noodles

Thin Noodles: Place the noodles in a bowl and soak them completely by pouring boiling water over them. Allow them to sit for about five minutes, or till they become a bit soft. You can test a noodle to confirm the texture. Drain thoroughly through a colander, refresh with some cool water, and drain again. They are now ready to use.

Thick Noodles: Boil a big pot of water. Add the noodles to the pot and stir for about 30 seconds. Remove the pot from heat but allow the noodles to soak for around 10 minutes, or till they are soft without any hard centers. Drain thoroughly through a colander, refresh with some cool water, and drain again. They are now ready to use.

However, cooking time depends on the size and composition of the noodles, so that the cooking time of the rice noodle is determined as the time required for disappearance of opaque central core when squeezed gently between two glass plates (1).

Fresh Rice Noodles

Fresh rice noodles don’t need soaking. Simply blanch them for about one to two minutes in boiling water to soften them. Drain thoroughly through a colander, refresh with some cool water, and drain again.

Vietnamese-style fresh rice noodles are like sheets and also don’t require soaking. Simply slice them into pieces and stir fry.

How Long to Soak Rice Noodles for Pad Thai?

Soak the rice noodles in boiling water for about five to 10 minutes till they become somewhat flexible but are not completely cooked. Drain, rinse thoroughly with cold water and drain again.

How Long to Soak Rice Noodles for Pho?

For making pho, use the small, 1/16-inch-wide variety of rice noodles. 

Initially soak them in cold water for about 30 minutes then drain. Boil some water in a large pot. Just before your dish is ready to serve, put the noodles, a single portion at a time, into a colander and lower it into the boiling water for about five to six minutes before serving.

Because rice noodles are gluten-free, many ingredients can be used to improve their taste and texture and avoid releasing exudates during the gelatinization. Therefore, they may contain modified starch, xanthan gum and locust bean gum, tapioca starch, potato starch, corn flour and rice flour mixtures. Because of the variation on the composition, cooking time may vary (1).

How Long to Cook Soaked Noodles for Stir-Fry?

For stir-fry, cook the soaked and drained rice noodles for only a minute or so in a non-stick skillet or hot wok. Stir-fried noodles need to be cooked just long enough for soaking up the sauce.

What are Rice Noodles?

Gluten-free pasta or noodle is a good choice for coeliac patients. Coeliac disease is caused by an individual’s susceptibility to the gliadin fraction of wheat gluten (protein). The ingestion of these proteins by coeliac patients causes an inflammatory response, resulting in the destruction of the villous structure of the small intestine. This leads to the malabsorption of several important nutrients including iron, folic acid, calcium and fat-soluble vitamins (1).

Rice noodles are made using a paste-like mixture of water and rice flour. The mixture spread onto a flat surface and steamed. When it is cooked through, it can either be chopped and sold fresh or placed on bamboo mats and air-dried. Rice noodles sometimes contain additives to improve texture and nutritional properties, such as gums, modified starch and emulsifiers (1). 

Dried rice noodles can either be white or clear; once cooked both deliver unique chewiness.

Rice noodles can be cut into various shapes, such as:

  • vermicelli (rice sticks)
  • thick spaghetti-like strands
  • fat Fettuccine strips
  • very thick folded sheets

Are Rice Noodles Healthier than Other Varieties?

Although regular pasta contains more nutrients, rice noodles are gluten-free, making them the preferred choice for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Although rice noodles abound in carbohydrates, they often have a paucity of  important nutritious elements including dietary fiber, protein, antioxidation, and vitamins (2).

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 1 cup (176 g) of cooked rice noodles contain:

130 g      water

190         kcal

3.15 g     protein

0.35 g     lipids

42.2 g     carbohydrate

1.76 g     fibers

7 mg       Calcium

5.2 mg    Magnesium

35 mg     Phosphorus

7 mg       Potassium

33 mg     Sodium

How Shouldn’t You Soak Rice Noodles?

A wrong suggestion is to soak rice noodles in cold water. In fact, most commercial noodle packages come bearing this direction. This technique not only takes too long to soften the noodles but also compromises their texture.

Another faulty recommendation is boiling the rice noodles. This will just result in a gloppy mess.

How To Tell When Rice Noodles Have Soaked Long Enough?

Simply bite into a noodle. If it is chewy and hard or firm, let the noodles soak for another minute or so. The texture you’re looking for should be pleasantly chewy and tender; just flexible enough to wrap your finger around. It is cooked when  the opaque central core is no more visible when gently squeezed (1). 

However, rice noodles tend to soften more if they are stir-fried. So if you’re soaking noodles for the latter, leave them a little on the firm side. 

How to Tell If Rice Noodles are Over-Soaked?

The texture of over-soaked rice noodles will resemble that of over-cooked Italian pasta – mushy, soft, gummy, and gluey. 

Also, over-soaked rice noodles stick together, and may also break down completely when stir-fried, resulting in short strips of noodles instead of proper long pieces.

Other FAQs about Rank Math that you may be interested in.

Can you cook rice a roni in a rice cooker?

Can Vegans eat rice noodles?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we discussed how long to soak rice noodles. Now that you know how to perfectly soak them, you can perfect a variety of Asian dishes and treat yourself and your loved ones!

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

References:

  1. Yalcin, Seda, and Arzu Basman. Effects of gelatinisation level, gum and transglutaminase on the quality characteristics of rice noodle. Int j food sci technol, 2008, 43, 1637-1644.
  2. Poonsri, Thidarat, et al. Improving nutrition, physicochemical and antioxidant properties of rice noodles with fiber and protein-rich fractions derived from cassava leaves. J Food Nutr Res, 2019, 7, 325-332.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.