Ever versatile, rice grains can be milled into fine flour and crafted into delicate noodles. Coming in a variety of shapes and sizes, this Asian staple is commonly found swimming in a steaming bowl of broth or charred with the breath of the wok.
1. Pad Thai Rice Sticks
Thicker than rice vermicelli but still narrow, these rice noodles are the fundamental ingredient in Thailand’s classic dish, pad Thai. Prone to clumping, they require soaking prior to cooking, but when prepared correctly, retain an al dente bite with that hint of chewiness we love.
More commonly known as string hoppers, idiyappam are traditional rice noodles from India, made by passing rice-based dough through a special press before steaming. The steamed noodles are served with spicy curries or coconut milk and sugar for a sweeter, creamier flavour.
3. Rice Vermicelli
Also known as rice sticks or bee hoon, the thread-like noodles of rice vermicelli are commonly used in Asian soups, stir-fries and salads. This staple generally comes dried and cooks in minutes, perfect for a quick noodle fix.
4. Silver Pin Noodles
These translucent traditional Hakka noodles are carefully hand-rolled into tapered, needle-like shapes and served in soup or stir-fried with a selection of meats and vegetables. Made from a mixture of glutinous and non-glutinous rice flour, these plump noodles are typically available fresh, yielding a chewy bite.
A common south Indian staple, sevai is very similar to idiyappam and traditionally prepared fresh at home by pressing sautéed rice flour-based dumplings into fine strands using a sevai press. A popular breakfast or dinner choice, this rice vermicelli is served plain or with spices and accompaniments such as sweetened coconut milk and powdered chickpeas.
6. Mi Xian
Coming from the mountainous province of Yunnan, mi xian is a fermented rice noodle with a thickness and shape similar to Italian spaghetti. Thicker and chewier than rice vermicelli, these noodles are typically served in a hot broth, perfect for slurping.
7. Chan’s Village Rice Noodles
A variant of ho fun or shahe fun, Chan’s Village rice noodles are a Shunde delicacy and originate in Chan’s Village in Foshan, Guangdong. Its wide, slithery ribbons are soft, silky in texture and so thin they are almost translucent. The rice noodles are lighter than its counterparts and best enjoyed in warmer weather, steamed fresh and tossed with minced pork and soy sauce.
8. Khanom Chin
Originating in Thailand, khanom chin are fresh rice noodles made from dough that is fermented for three days before being pressed through a sieve. Typically served with different stocks and a range of condiments, with regional variations, khanom chin is also popular in som tam, Thai green papaya salad.
9. Shahe Fen
Shahe fen are smooth, white sheets of rice noodles, generally cut into wide, ribbon-like ho fun or rolled into cheong fun. The sheets come dried or fresh, coated with a thin layer of oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Try them in a light broth with fish balls or stir-fried with beef for a Cantonese classic.