What are bean thread noodles and how do you use them? Find out here!
Commonly found in Japanese and Chinese dishes, bean thread noodles are a staple of many Southeast Asian recipes.
As well as 'bean thread', you will also hear them referred to as mung bean noodles, mung bean vermicelli, glass noodles, saifun or harusame.
What makes these noodles unique is not just how fine and transparent they are in appearance, but also the fact that they are made from plant based starch!
Sometimes tapioca or potato starch is used, but they are traditionally made with mung bean starch.
Mung bean starch comes from mung beans - small beans that are green in color. They being to the legume family and have been around since ancient times, revered in Asian cultures for their significant health benefits. With a hint of sweetness, they are great in salads, soups or stir fries.
Preparing bean thread noodles
Bean thread noodles usually come packaged in boxes of between 5 and 8 ounces. The noodles are typically broken into 2 ounce bundles.
Before cooking, bean thread noodles are white and slightly opaque, but they turn clear once cooked. You will probably notice they are very difficult to break prior to cooking, but once they have been cooked they are easier to cut into manageable lengths.
There are two ways in which you can cook bean thread noodles:
Before cooking, soak the noodles in warm water for about 30 minutes. You can then cut them into 3-4 inch lengths before adding to a pot of boiling water. Cook for 2-3 minutes and drain.
Add the noodles to a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and cover the pan, allowing the noodles to sit for 3-5 minutes. The noodles should be firm. Then, drain and rinse the noodles in cold water before transferring to a chopping board and cutting them to your preferred length.
If you are unsure how to use bean thread noodles, bear in mind that the noodles themselves are rather bland. This means that they are best used in dishes which are quite saucy, or in soups and ramens.
When cooking bean thread noodles, always add them towards the end of the cooking process as they can overcook quickly.
Here are some great way to serve bean thread noodles:
- Add to a crunchy salad with a sesame ginger dressing. You can replace the chow Mein noodles in this Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe with bean thread for an interesting twist
- Fry shiitake or oyster mushrooms in butter and add them right at the end
- Add to a stir fry
An important thing to note is that bean thread noodles and rice noodles are two completely different types of noodles and should not be used interchangeably. Whilst incredibly similar in appearance, their textures differ, with bean thread being much more silky and rice noodles being starchy.