The word vermicelli may refer to wheat- or rice-based noodles. Wheat-based vermicelli resembles angel hair pasta or spaghetti and is about halfway between the two as far as thickness. Rice-based vermicelli can be as thin as saffron threads, wide and flat, or almost any size in between. Both types of pasta have a tendency to become sticky if not cooked properly, but with a little care and attention, you can cook perfect vermicelli every time.
Things You'll Need
- Wooden spoon
- Colander or mesh strainer
Boiling Wheat Vermicelli
Fill a large pot with water. The more room your vermicelli has to swell as it cooks, the less likely it will stick together.
Add a generous amount of salt to the water. Sea salt or kosher salt imparts a stronger flavor to the pasta, but table salt will do.
Bring the water to a full, rolling boil. Little bubbles coming up from the bottom mean that the water is approaching a boil, but it is not ready for the pasta until the surface of the water looks like a storm at sea. Adding the noodles too early can make them sticky.
Add the vermicelli a small handful at a time, stirring it to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once all of the pasta has been added, stir it again. A wooden pasta spoon with a hole in the center is an excellent choice for cooking vermicelli, but any long-handled spoon will do. Cook the vermicelli for the time suggested on the package, usually five to seven minutes, stirring it once or twice as it cooks.
Drain the vermicelli in a colander or mesh strainer. Do not rinse the pasta or drain it aggressively because the bit of starchy water clinging to it can help thicken your sauce so that it adheres better to the noodles. Add the pasta to your sauce immediately so that it doesn’t get sticky as it cools.
Soaking Rice Vermicelli
Open the package of vermicelli and gently separate the noodles with your fingertips as much as you can without breaking too many of them. Place them in a large bowl.
Cover the rice noodles with boiling water if you are going to dress and serve the noodles immediately. Use lukewarm water if you will be further cooking the noodles for a dish such as pad Thai, or adding them to soup.
Stir the noodles gently to separate them. Soak them in the water for seven to 10 minutes, or until they are soft and chewy but not too mushy. Drain the noodles and continue with your recipe.
Tips & Warnings
- Toss drained vermicelli with canola oil, olive oil or sesame oil if you are not going to immediately add it to a sauce. This will keep the noodles from sticking together as they cools.
- Never overcook vermicelli because it will become mushy.
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