Did you know noodles can be clear? Mung bean noodles, or glass noodles, are a traditional type of Chinese noodle that have a clear consistency, and can be found in all sorts of dishes from various Asian countries outside of China, including Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and more. To learn more about these uniquely versatile noodles, keep reading on!
What Are Bean Thread Noodles?
Mung bean noodles, also known as bean threads, cellophane noodles, glass noodles, and fen si, are chewy, thin, transparent noodles made from starch and water to get their translucent appearance. Depending on which country they’re coming from, bean thread noodles can be made from a range of different kinds of starches. For example, bean thread noodles from China are most often made with mung bean starch or sweet potato starch, whereas Korean varieties are typically only made from sweet potato starch.
These noodles are sold in dried form at the grocery store, which makes them look white in the packaging, and they only require a few minutes in water to cook. Once they’ve been cooked, however, the mung bean noodles develop this clear consistency that makes them look like glass or cellophane, hence the many nicknames.
Bean thread noodles, not to be confused with rice vermicelli, another type of thin noodles made from mung bean starch, don’t have much flavor on their own, but they do absorb the other flavors in a given dish quite nicely. Glass noodles can be used in all sorts of Asian dishes, like soups, stir-frys, shrimp dishes, mung bean curd, and spring rolls. The sweet potato starch version of the noodles are also a central ingredient in the popular Korean cuisine Japchae, which is a savory yet sweet stir-fry dish made with an assortment of vegetables, like mushrooms, carrots, spinach, and onions, as well as proteins like egg, beef, and pork, and toppings such as soy sauce and sesame oil.
How To Cook Bean Thread Noodles
Bean threads require a particular preparation style that you’re probably not used to with your average noodles. Luckily, it’s not a very complicated prep style, but it is a rather unconventional way to cook noodles if you’re not used to it. Let’s break down how to cook mung bean noodles for soup and other dishes step by step.
First, remove the Chinese vermicelli noodles and place them into a large bowl. Then, pour in some warm water in the bowl until the noodles are covered. Unlike most kinds of noodles, you do not need to use boiling water to cook bean threads. If your water temperature is anything above warm, your noodles will become too soft. A good rule of thumb is to use water that’s barely steaming.
Next, take a fork to separate the noodles from one another so they’re not as intertwined. Then, set a timer for five minutes to check on the noodles. When the timer goes off, your noodles should be soft, but not too sticky or clumpy. If that’s the case that means they’re ready. Drain the noodles, move them to another bowl, and you’re good to go. And pro tip: make sure to get the noodles out of the water bowl as quickly as possible, because you don’t want to compromise their soft texture.
Bean thread noodles can be pretty long, so if you want to shorten the length of the noodles, you can cut them with scissors to break them up. That way you won’t hurt your wrist trying to spin the strands onto your fork.
Where To Buy Mung Bean Noodles
Looking to make the perfect bean noodles dish? Bokksu Market’s Lungkow Fen Si Bean Thread Noodles is a great place to start. Or, if you’re interested in trying the sweet potato starch version, you can pick up a pack of Surasang Sweet Potato Starch Noodles or Surasang Purple Sweet Potato Starch Noodles the next time you want to make Japchae.
Bokksu Market is your go-to place for all those must-have Asian grocery items and ingredients that you can’t find anywhere else, and you can have them delivered directly to your door. For more information, click here.