3 Easy and Quick Ways to Separate Fresh Rice Noodles

Published on:
Rice noodles in a chopsticks with a text "how to separate fresh rice noodles".

As a lazy cook, fresh rice noodles are God-sent for me. Can you imagine that you don’t even have to boil them before using them in dishes?

Just toss them in with your Asian meals, and they’ll cook perfectly!

Yet, the one thing that gets on my nerves is how often these noodles clump in the packaging and even break when you try to separate them. Pretty clingy, aren’t they? 

Well, don’t fret! There are many ways to separate fresh rice noodles without aggressively pulling them apart.

Fresh rice noodles become brittle and break, as they get older. To avoid this, you can soak the noodles in cold water, give them a quick boil for a few seconds, or microwave them with a damp paper towel covering.

What Causes Fresh Rice Noodles to Stick Together?

Rice noodles in a white bowl.

One of the main reasons why fresh rice noodles clump and start breaking when you cook them is because they have become too old and are not as fresh anymore

Ideally, you should use fresh rice noodles within two to three days of their purchase. You should also buy the packet with the latest manufacturing date. 

I have also noticed how their quality worsens with ith each passing day. I used a six-day-old rice noodles once, and ended up with chewy, brittle, and hard noodles! Certainly, not anyone’s type. 

However, if you cannot go to the supermarket to get fresh rice noodles, I suggest freezing and storing the rice noodles for up to a month. 

You should also transfer the fresh rice noodles to freezer bags if you’ve already opened the packaging. Otherwise, you can freeze them in the original packaging itself.

How to Separate Fresh Rice Noodles?

Separating each strand of fresh rice noodles can make you pull out your hair. The worst part is that you might even ruin the noodles’ texture in the process! 

In this case, there are methods you must try to separate the rice noodles without breaking them.

Method 1: Microwave Them! 

Woman's hand operating the microwave.

The best way to prevent your fresh rice noodles from clumping and breaking is by microwaving them. 

I always follow this process, as it keeps the noodles from becoming dry or brittle and also separates them.

Here is what you need to do:

1. First, transfer your fresh rice noodles into a microwave-safe dish or bowl. 

Rice noodles in a white bowl.

2. Cover the dish or bowl with a damp paper towel or napkin to prevent your rice noodles from drying out and breaking. 

Rice noodles in a bowl covered with damp paper towel.

3. Microwave the rice noodles for about 30 seconds

4. Then, remove your bowl from the microwave and gently flip the noodles with kitchen tongs

Rice noodles in a white bowl with kitchen tongs.

5. Cover and microwave the noodles again for about 30 seconds.

6. Take the rice noodles out of the microwave. I recommend using your fingers to separate any leftover sticky strands.

Method 2: Soak in Cold Water 

If you don’t have a microwave, then soaking your rice noodles in cold water can give you similar results. It’s quick, hassle-free, and removes any stickiness from your noodles.

1. First, take a large bowl and fill it with ice-cold water

2. Transfer the fresh rice noodles into the bowl, and let it soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. 

Rice noodles soaked in water.

3. Drain the rice noodles using a sieve, and carefully separate the strands using your fingers or fork. 

Rice noodles drained in a sieve.

Method 3: Boil for About 30 Seconds 

Boiling water in a pan.

This method gets a little tricky, as you need to ensure that you don’t boil the rice noodles for too long. 

I remember boiling them for over a minute, and the result was bad.

Boiling rice noodles for a few seconds will allow the strands to separate without breaking. But, when you boil the noodles for too long, they may cook and affect the texture of your stir-fry dishes. 

Here are some easy instructions that you can follow:

1. Fill a cooking pot with water and boil it until the water bubbles.

2. Add your fresh rice noodles into a cooking pot

Rice noodles in a cooking pot.

3. Boil the noodles for about 30 to 40 seconds

4. Once done, drain the rice noodles in a sieve and separate them with your fingers.

Quick Tip: To prevent the noodles from sticking together again, I often drizzle some oil on them. This loosens them for a long time!

A spoon of oil above the rice noodles.

Should You Cook Fresh Rice Noodles?

Pho Bo Vietnamese soup in a white bowl.

You need to cook most rice ingredients but not rice noodles!

You don’t need to cook or boil fresh rice noodles before using them in most Asian dishes, as they already have a soft texture. So, they can be added directly to the dish and cooked within its broth or soup. 

I have come across some recipes that require boiling or soaking the rice noodles to soften their texture before adding them to the dish. Just look out for those recipes and adjust the cooking process accordingly!

You can also fry rice noodles to add a crispy twist to any dish.

Final Thoughts

Separating rice noodles may look daunting when you try to do it by hand. 

However, the methods mentioned in this post will take less than three to four minutes and give you well-separated strands, perfect for your stir-fries!

Saniya Baxi Avatar


Leave a Comment