The Main Reason Your Rice Noodles Are Mushy

If you enjoy Asian noodle dishes such as pad thai, mei fun, or pho, then you've likely eaten your share of rice noodles over the years. Available in a variety of textures, shapes, and thicknesses, according to Serious Eats, the noodles are typically made with just rice flour and water and are found across a huge swath of cuisines from many different nations. Boasting a mild sweetness, rice noodles make a neutral base for the bold flavors of dishes such as spicy, coconut-based laksa and smoky pad see ew.

Rice noodles can be delicious — and are a boon to the gluten-free set — but as anyone who's patronized a subpar takeout joint knows, they turn out mushy all too often. If you're planning to toss any into a soup or into the wok at home, then you'll want to avoid overcooking them, which leads to that unpleasant mushiness.

Rice noodles don't need to be boiled, just soaked

Did you know that rice noodles don't need to be boiled in water, but rather soaked in hot water until rehydrated? If boiled, the noodles will overcook, turn mushy, and are likely to break apart, according to Kitchen Skip. Generally, when it comes to preparing rice noodles, the technique is the same. Carefully remove the noodles from their package, avoiding any breakage, and place them in a large mixing bowl (via Kitchn). Bring a pot of water to boil, turn it off, and then pour the hot water over the noodles until they're fully submerged (alternatively, you can add the noodles right into the pot). 

Super-thin rice vermicelli will cook through in just a few minutes, according to Kitchn, while wide, flat styles will take longer. The outlet advises stirring the noodles every couple of minutes so they don't stick together, and biting into a strand to see if it's cooked. When the noodles are tender, drain them, then run them under cold water to stop the cooking.

Preparing rice noodles this way is a great technique for a cold salad. But if you'll be heating the noodles through in a stir-fry, Kitchn counsels, you should undercook them a little. If you're making a soup such as pho, you can cook your rice noodles right in the broth — just taste them every once in a while to determine their doneness, and serve the soup right away.