Glass Noodles are one of the coolest noodles going, an ingredient you owe it to yourself to try, especially this summer in a chilled salad or entrée dish. They have an altogether unique flavor, unique texture and an amazing look. Serve up a dish with these noodles in it and you’ll definitely get some attention.
Also known as cellophane or bean thread noodles, these thin, thread-like noodles are typically made from mung bean starch and water and become transparent or glass-like when cooked. Not only is their appearance different from regular pasta noodles, but their texture is also more gelatinous and their flavor more neutral thus lending themselves perfectly to nearly any ingredient they’re paired with.
Like classic pasta, glass noodles can be made by rolling and cutting (if flat noodles are desired) or by extruding, as in the case of most thread noodles. Glass noodles are used in a variety of ways in many Asian nations, including China, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. They’re also extremely popular in areas of the world with large Asian populations.
Some of the most popular uses for glass noodles include fillings for dumplings, spring rolls, and other stuffed dishes, in stir-fries, soups, and in salads. Anywhere wheat pasta would be used you can use glass noodles, including both hot and cold dishes.
You’ll usually find glass noodles in the Asian section of your supermarket (as they are at Nino’s). The package size is usually about 4 ounces. They come dried and nested in cellophane bags. Also, keep in mind that while they turn clear when cooked, they’ll look white when dried and in the package.
Using these noodles is probably the easiest thing you’ve ever done. To use them in a cold dish, like a salad, you’ll only need to cover them in scalding water for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, rinse them under cold water and drain well. Use them immediately or toss them in a little oil so they won’t stick together until you’re ready to use them.
To use them in a hot dish, soak them only half as long (7 or 8 minutes), drain (no rinsing), and then add them at the last minute to broths or stir-fried dishes. They’ll finish cooking well before you take that first bite.
Good news you gluten allergy folks!
For people who have difficulty digesting gluten, glass noodles are a great alternative to wheat noodles, because they are naturally gluten free. You also get, as an additional bonus, a noodle that is a good source of iron, calcium, and fiber. Here’s a salad recipe for you to try:
Classic Thai Glass Noodle & Shrimp Salad: Makes 4 Servings
1-4 Ounce Package Glass Noodles (Bean Threads)
½ Cup Lime Juice, Freshly Squeezed
¼ Cup Fish Sauce
2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
1 TBSP Sesame Oil
2 TBSP Rice Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 LB Shrimp, Peeled, Deveined & Cooked & Cooled
1 English Cucumber, Halved, Seeded, and Sliced Thin
1 Red Bell Pepper, Cut into Thin Strips
½ Cup Green Onions, Sliced Thinly on Bias
1 TBSP Fresh Ginger, Grated
½ Cup Shredded Carrot
2 TBSP Fresh Cilantro Leaves, Chopped
1. Soak noodles in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Rinse and drain, and place in a mixing bowl.
2. Combine lime juice and next 5 ingredients. Pour over noodles, tossing to coat.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients, and toss salad until well blended.
4. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
As mentioned above, any number of sauces, proteins and vegetables pair well with glass noodles, both cold AND hot recipes, especially those ingredients of Asian origin. Below are a few of my favorite dressing recipes that go well with glass noodles. Enjoy!
Maple Teriyaki Dressing
Thai Lemongrass Dressing
Creamy Nira Vinaigrette