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What are Rice Stick Noodles?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Rice stick noodles are flat rice noodles made in many parts of Asia. They can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups to stir fries, and they are readily available in most markets that stock Asian ingredients. For a specific variety, it is sometimes necessary to go to an Asian market.

The noodles are made either by blending rice flour and water to make a dough, or by soaking and grinding rice to create a paste. In either case, the dough or paste is rolled out on a flat surface and then cut to make noodles. The noodles are then dried, typically after being folded so that they will fit in a compact space. Sometimes, ingredients such as taro powder will be added to slightly change the appearance or texture of the noodles.

There are three basic widths of rice stick noodle: thin, medium, and wide. In all cases, the noodles are soaked in warm water before use to soften them, and when cooked, they turn slightly translucent, and classically rather chewy and sticky. These noodles are highly absorbent, so they pick up surrounding flavors very well, and they also absorb wet sauces, tending to swell in the process.

These noodles are used throughout Asia in a wide variety of dishes. Wide rice stick noodles are sometimes included in soups, while medium ones are the stars of the popular Thai noodle dish known as pad thai. Thin noodles may be fried and crumbled over dishes, used to stuff egg rolls, or included in soups and stews. Various stews and stir fries may be served on a bed of plain rice noodles to absorb the sauce.

You may hear rice stick noodles referred to as rice vermicelli, rice sticks, or simply rice noodles. They should be stored in a cool dry place, and they will keep indefinitely as long as they are not exposed to moisture. It can be a good idea to rinse the noodles before soaking them, to remove excess starch that could thicken the liquids in the dish or add a starchy flavor to the finished food.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By OeKc05 — On Jun 19, 2011

If you want your rice noodles to have a chewy texture, then soak them in lukewarm water until they soften, and then boil them for 2 minutes. Next, drain them and add a touch of oil to prevent them from sticking to themselves. If you happen to soak them too much, you can stick them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to make them chewy.

By seag47 — On Jun 17, 2011

@aishia - I believe that the regular rice noodles would work, because all types of rice noodles are known for absorbing liquid quickly.

I've used a variety of rice noodles before, and it seems to me like they all work pretty much the same -- I don't think that changing the shape would make that much of a difference, though you might have some problems with the noodles clumping, since they're shorter.

By aishia — On Apr 05, 2011

I can't find rice stick noodles at my grocery store, but they do sell regular rice noodles. I wonder if they would still cook correctly and taste the same if I just bought some of the long kind and snapped them off into little straight sections like rice stick noodles?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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