Rice noodles come in different thicknesses and widths. They also come with different cooking instructions. Some require soaking in cold water prior to boiling; others can go directly into a pot of boiling water and cook in less than three minutes. I’ve tried a lot of varieties and this is the most important lesson that I have learned so far — the kind that goes directly into boiling water and cooks in two to three minutes is no good at all.
The beef noodle soup in the photo was made with the bad kind of rice noodles. As appetizing as the dish appears, Speedy and I finished the meat and vegetables, but a lot of the noodles remained uneaten. And we were discussing the noodles over our meal. I even brought out the pack and showed Speedy where it says “instant.” And we agreed that we should be more careful when buying rice noodles again.
See, good rice noodle, the kind used in Vietnamese pho, is soft with a slight chewiness when cooked correctly.
Quick cooking rice noodle, the “instant” kind, is brittle with no substantial texture.
To make sure that you’re getting good rice noodles next time you go to the grocery, don’t just grab a pack depending on how it looks. Read the labels especially the cooking instructions.
Then, when you cook the noodles, follow the instructions. Trust me, cooking rice noodles is not the same as cooking egg noodles or pasta. The soaking part is so crucial.