The world of noodles expands so far past spaghetti and fettuccine and yet we usually stick to what we know best. Glass noodles are commonly used in many Asian cuisines and can be found in stir fries, soups, hot pots, and salads. They can be found in most grocery stores and especially Asian markets. Glass noodles—also referred to as cellophane noodles, bean thread noodles, or fensi—are packaged dry and usually white or a light tan color. Once they are cooked, the noodles become transparent and look like glass, hence their name. They don’t have a strong flavor and are a pretty neutral tasting noodle making them great for a lot of dishes. They soak up liquids very well so don’t be shy when adding sauces to them!
What are glass noodles made of?
Where the glass noodles are from will determine exactly what they are made of. The most common variety comes from China and is made of mung bean starch. Korean and Japanese glass noodles are typically made from sweet potato starch. Some other starches, like arrowroot or tapioca can be used as well, but mung bean and sweet potato are the most common.
How do you cook glass noodles?
Glass noodles are easy to make and cook quickly. They can be soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes or boiled like regular noodles, like here in our Japchae recipe. They don’t take long to boil, so be careful not to overcook them. Only cook them until they are soft, which should take about five minutes. If you are adding them into a soup where they will cook longer, you may want to cook them for even less time!
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Are glass noodles gluten-free?
Yes! Since the noodles are typically made from sweet potato or mung bean starch, they are gluten-free. Be sure to check labels, however, as many manufactures may make other products that include gluten.