From shopping tips to what to add (and not add) to cooking water.
30 Jul 2016 - 9:36 AM  UPDATED 18 Aug 2021 - 11:11 AM

1. Most noodles come with cooking instructions printed on the packet. Let these be your guide for cook times as there is a good deal of variation between types of noodles and even brands. For example, dried wheat noodles require 1-7 minutes depending on their thickness. Fresh, uncooked wheat noodles need 2-5 minutes of cooking and pre-cooked wheat noodles require a brief blanching in boiling water or a 2-3 minute soak in a bowl of boiling water, before using. Fresh rice noodles should be soaked in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, mung bean vermicelli should soak for 5-10 minutes and rice stick noodles for anywhere from 10-20 minutes (or until softened). This all depends on their thickness, their width and if they will be further cooked after soaking.

2. If you’re adding any style of cooked noodles to the soup, it’s best to slightly undercook them before doing so. This will prevent them from overcooking, once they’re in the soup.

3. When handling dried rice noodles, take care when removing them from their packet as they are fragile and easily break. To soak, submerge them in plenty of boiling water in a bowl, stirring them every few minutes to loosen. Once they are tender, stop the softening process by draining them well and rinsing them under plenty of cold running water. You can do this an hour or two in advance of adding them to a recipe - toss a little vegetable oil through them to prevent them from sticking.

4. Chinese wheat noodles are made using salt, so no salt is required in their cooking water when you’re boiling them.

ultimate guide
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5. Noodles made from rice flour, sweet potato or bean starch generally don’t contain salt either and it’s not necessary to add any to the cooking water. These types of noodles usually end up mixed with salty/pungent ingredients such as soy sauce, fish sauce, chilli, gochujang etc, so do not require separate seasoning.

Sweet potato glass noodles (japcahe)

Japchae has to be the most popular noodle dish in Korea. It is made with sweet potato glass noodles tossed together with beef strips and lots of vegetables.

6. Fresh wheat noodles shouldn't be cooked at a vigorous boil over a high flame as this can cause them to stick. A medium flame is what you need. When they are nearly cooked, add a little cold water to the pan to prevent them from overcooking.

7. A few drops of oil (vegetable, peanut or sesame) added to the cooking water can help to prevent noodles from sticking together.

How to make scissor-cut noodles
These Shaanxi noodles are hands down the easiest specialty noodle to make at home.

8. Use a set of chopsticks to gently separate cooking noodles, or soaking noodles (fresh or dried rice noodles, bean vermicelli for example).

9. When buying fresh rice noodles, try to find ones that haven’t been refrigerated - refrigerating hardens their texture and makes them brittle and they then tend to then break when soaking or cooking. Never freeze these noodles. In fact, avoid frozen noodles where possible- jjolmyeon are a notable exception to this as they’re hard to find fresh and their elastic quality means they stand up to freezing better than other types of noodles. In most instances, dried noodles are preferable to frozen if fresh is either not an option, or aren't necessary for a recipe.

Homemade rice noodles

You can make these steamed noodles as thick or as thin as you like.

10. Some noodles, such as Korean naengmyun and bean thread vermicelli, require cutting before serving as their great length can be unwieldy. The easiest way to do this is by using a pair of kitchen scissors, either once the noodles have been soaked, or after the noodles are cooked and drained. Uncooked, they are wiry and hard to cut.

Head to the kitchen
Miso-grilled salmon with soba noodles

It's time to start mingling with miso. The Japanese staple ingredient pairs well with so many flavours and simply needs the right balance of flavour to make is shine. Earthy soba and delicate salmon are the perfect foil for the miso marinade. Adjust the ratios to suit your own style, there’s no right or wrong as long as it tastes good to you.

Nepalese chicken noodle soup (thukpa)

Thukpa is a popular soup in the northern Himalayan region of Nepal. Fragrant, hearty and simple to prepare, this satisfying soup recipe is an easy midweek winter warmer.

Malaysian laksa (cheat's laksa)

This laksa combines fresh ingredients with a commercial laksa paste, meaning a lot of the prep work is done for you. To make this recipe even easier, place the garnishes in the centre of the table, allowing diners to assemble their laksa to taste.