How To Keep Rice Noodles From Clumping Together

Rice noodles are a simple yet delicate foundation for everything from zingy pad thai to a yummy shrimp curry. But what's a home cook to do when rice noodles clump together into a giant, sticky mass that no amount of mixing can untangle? Here are a few tips from the pros to keep those translucent noodles separate and slippery. It's actually pretty simple.

First of all, follow the directions on the cooking package, says Bon Appetit. If the package says to place in boiling water for five minutes, then darn it, only leave them in for five minutes! If it says to soak them in hot water instead, soak them (via Kitchn). Rice noodles may need varying times in water for different widths of noodle, according to SheSimmers. Like wheat pasta favored by Americans, rice noodles are good al dente, where they're just cooked and pliable enough to bend without breaking (via Bon Appetit and SheSimmers).

Tips and tricks for no-stick rice noodles

But take note: cooking time for rice noodles might need to be adjusted depending on the finished product (via Bon Appetit). For hot dishes, like a stir fry or soup, you should cook it for a little less time, since they'll be further cooked later, says Kitchn.

To keep the noodles from clumping and sticking, immediately incorporate them into the next step, whether it's in a pan with oil for stir fry or doused in sauce (via Bon Appetit). SheSimmers explains that in doing so, the sticky rice starches will be offset by the oil or sauce. For a cold dish like a vermicelli bowl, rinse the noodles with cold water immediately after removing them from the hot water to stop the cooking process and wash away extra starches (via Bon Appetit).

Another method, especially if you're saving the noodles until the rest of the dish is prepared, is to pur them in a bowl with a little bit of oil after cooking and draining — sesame, peanut, whatever you prefer — and toss them every five to ten minutes until it's their time to shine. This will also help keep them separated and prevent them from meeting a clumpy fate.