Rice noodles are thin, pasta-like noodles made from rice flour. They are usually only 2 mm thick, and only require blanching or a very short cooking time. They are also referred to as rice vermicelli or rice sticks.
As rice noodles are usually very thin (1–2 mm), blanching them for a few minutes is enough for them to be cooked through, although they are often boiled for 1–2 minutes. Unlike glass noodles, rice noodles retain their whitish color when cooked. Drain rice noodles once they are cooked through.
Rice noodles should not be confused with glass noodles, which are made from peas, corn, or mung beans. Glass noodles are nonetheless a good alternative to rice noodles. Thicker varieties of rice noodles also exist, from 3 mm round noodles to flat 10 mm wide rice ribbons. Unlike fresh pasta and egg pasta, rice noodles are usually vegan.
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Rice noodles and glass noodles can be found in Asian supermarkets and increasingly in the Asian section of major supermarkets. Supermarkets that stock rice noodles include Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Extra Foods, Metro, and Freshmart (Canada); Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco (Great Britain); and Woolworths and Coles (Australia).
Rice noodles are dried and packaged either like spaghetti or in folded bundles. Once purchased, they are like spaghetti in that they last a long time if stored in a dry place. This makes them a great ingredient to store in the pantry as an emergency supply!
You can view all of the essential nutritional information and nutrients in the tables bellowing by clicking on “CLICK FOR.” These tables show that rice noodles contain above average quantities of the proteins tryptophan and threonine, as well as selenium, manganese, and sodium.
Chinese rice noodles contain between about 325 to 375 calories per 100 grams. Carbohydrates represent 70 to 84 % of this energy, which is equivalent to approximately 6 carbohydrate exchanges (or bread units), while the protein content is around 7 g and the fat content is only 0.6 to 0.7 %. The nutritional value of different types of rice noodles is usually similar in terms of macronutrients and caloric values, whereas pasta can differ considerably between varieties, from 158 calories to over 348 calories per 100 g. This is because the amount of egg in pasta greatly influences its nutritional value.
If large quantities are consumed regularly, both pasta and rice noodles can increase the risk of diabetes. You should be eating a greater portion of vegetables than rice noodles. All the same, rice noodles contain more than double the total amount of vitamins found in wheat pasta (5.95 mg compared to 2.55 mg), and are preserved particularly well thanks to their short cooking time.
If you are very gluten intolerant, make sure that you choose gluten-free rice noodles — without the label “may contains traces of gluten.” Look for brands that explicitly state that the rice noodles are free of traces of gluten, that is, suitable for people with celiac disease. If you are only sensitive to gluten (gluten intolerant), rice noodles, unlike pasta, should be no problem. The reason that many rice noodles contain traces of gluten is that pasta and rice noodles are processed in the same machines.
Rice noodles should not be confused with orzo, also known as risoni, or kritharáki in Greek and arpa şehriye in Turkish. Orzo is a type of small pasta shaped like large grains of rice and is often found in Greek cuisine.
It is often called orzo rice; however, this name is misleading as orzo looks quite different and is usually make from semolina flour, which is made of durum wheat. In Greek cuisine, orzo prepared like risotto is known as kritharoto.
Rice noodles are one of the most widely used ingredients in East Asia. While they are often made entirely from rice flour, sometimes tapioca flour or cornstarch are added to improve the consistency of the noodles and give them a translucent appearance.1
Vietnamese cuisine also frequently uses rice noodles, including the popular rice noodle soup phở and the northern Vietnamese dish phở xào: fried flat rice noodles with vegetables. These dishes often contain beef (bò) or chicken (gà), but vegetarian varieties exist and usually include “chay” (vegetarian) in their name. Phở chay and phở xào chay are vegetarian (and usually vegan) varieties of rice noodle dishes.
The Wikipedia page on rice noodles shows a close-up of the Thai dish pad thai.2