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Glass Noodles Cook in 5 Minutes + Absorb Tons of Flavor — How to Use Them

Learn why these translucent strands are good for you.

When it comes to Asian cuisine, noodles play an essential role. From ramen to lo mein and soba, noodles come in various shapes, sizes and textures to complement different ingredients. And for one variety that’s so easy to use and extra-versatile, we love glass noodles. These chewy, translucent strands soak up flavor like no other and cook almost instantly, whether stir-fried or mixed in a soup. We’re sharing two delicious recipes that take under 30 minutes, as well as expert cooking tips. So keep reading to learn everything about glass noodles.

What are glass noodles?

glass noodles in bowl
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Glass noodles, also known as cellophane or bean thread noodles, originated in China. “Unlike traditional noodles made from wheat, glass noodles are typically made from mung bean, potato, sweet potato, tapioca or rice starch,” says Avery Zenker, a registered dietitian and writer for Everflex Fitness. “When cooked, they become translucent, hence the name ‘glass noodles.'”

But don’t get them confused with rice vermicelli noodles, which are white in color. They usually come dry, then reconstitute in water before being cooked. Many love glass noodles for their delicate texture and ability to absorb the flavors of the dishes they’re cooked with.

In East Asian cuisines, glass noodles can be found in a variety of dishes including stir fries, soups, salads, spring rolls and hot pots (food cooked in simmering soup stock). They go great with vegetables, meats, seafood and flavorful sauces to create vibrant meals. You can cook them by boiling, soaking or stir-frying depending on the recipe.

Glass noodles don’t taste like much. Instead, they serve as a flavor conduit to other ingredients. And not all glass noodles look the same. While Chinese mung bean noodles look stringy, Korean sweet potato noodles or broad bean noodles come wide. Some variations are even flat, known as mung bean sheets. “They come in big packs of individually wrapped packets you can find at any Chinese grocery store,” Kaitlin and Sarah Leung, cookbook authors and creators of The Woks of Life, add.

For more noodle dishes, read on for 5 Types of Asian Noodles and Keto-Friendly Kelp Noodles.

Are glass noodles good for you?

Glass noodles offer several health benefits, making them a popular choice if you want a nutritious alternative to wheat-based noodles. “Glass noodles are gluten-free, making them a good alternative for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease,” says Zenker. “Depending on the starch source, they can be lower in calories compared to traditional wheat noodles.” They also contain low levels of sugar and fat. However, because glass noodles don’t contain a lot of protein or fiber, Zenker suggests pairing them with other nutrient-rich ingredients like vegetables, meat or legumes.

How to cook glass noodles

The best part about glass noodles is how fast they cook, 1-5 minutes compared to 8-10 for most dried pastas. This requires a bit more attention to detail, as you don’t want to overcook them. Cooking glass noodles may seem complicated, but it’s surprisingly easy with a few expert tips. We spoke to the experts who share their insights.

1. Soak noodles before cooking

“‘[Glass noodles] typically need to be soaked in hot water for about 10 to 15 minutes or boiled for a few minutes until they become soft and transparent,” says Zenker. She reminds us to not “overcook them, as they can become too soft and lose their texture. Drain them well after soaking or boiling.”

2. Cut them in half first

“To make them easier to work with, you can then cut them in half once they are softened before throwing them in a wok or large sauté pan to cook alongside the other ingredients”

3. Get creative

According to Kaitlin and Sarah, glass noodles “are super versatile and can be combined as a stir-fry with numerous other ingredients for a quick and healthy meal. Everything from cabbage and egg to chicken and pork with chilis, the sky’s the limit with your favorite ingredients you can add to the pan with glass noodles.” Try their traditional recipe called Ants Climbing A Tree!

Two easy recipes using glass noodles

Whether you’re craving a quick weeknight meal or a light and satisfying lunch, these two recipes are sure to become favorites in your kitchen. They’re easy to prepare and ready to serve in 30 minutes (or less).

Japchae (Stir-Fried Korean Glass Noodles)

Korean japchae
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Japchae is a traditional Korean dish made with stir-fried glass noodles, meat and vegetables in a sweet and savory sauce. This recipe from Drive Me Hungry skips the meat for a veggie-filled dish in 25 minutes.

Ingredients:

Stir Fry

  • 8-oz. Korean glass noodles (sweet potato starch noodles)
  • 2 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 2 Tbs. avocado oil
  • 6 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced ⅓” thick
  • ⅓ large yellow onion, sliced ⅓” thick
  • ½ large red bell pepper, julienned ¼” thick
  • ½ large yellow bell pepper, julienned ¼” thick
  • ½ large carrot, julienned ⅛” thick
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks scallions, chopped for garnish
  • 2 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish

Sauce:

  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. dark soy sauce
  • 1½ Tbs. sesame oil

Directions:

  • Active Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. Mix the sauce ingredients together in small bowl until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles according to the directions. Drain the water and add the hot noodles to a large bowl. Add the sauce to noodles and toss to combine. Let sit for the noodles to absorb the flavors.
  3. Cook the egg whites and egg yolks separately in a flat pan and cut them into strips. Set it aside.
  4. Heat a pan over medium high heat, then add mushrooms and onions. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Next, add peppers, carrots and minced garlic. Stir fry for 1 -2 minutes.
  5. Add spinach and toss together until it starts to wilt. Add a pinch of salt to season the vegetables, then remove from heat. Add vegetables and egg to seasoned glass noodles. Toss everything to combine and garnish with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

Glass Noodle Chicken Salad

glass noodle chicken salad
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You don’t always have to prepare glass noodles hot. In fact, they’re just as tasty served cold. ? This 20-minute recipe from RecipeTin Eats combines glass noodles with a creamy hoisin dressing and a lime cashew crumble.

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 100 g (3.5-oz.) cellophane noodles
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 cups green cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 cucumber, cut in half, sliced ⅛″ thick
  • 1 carrot, peeled then sliced
  • 2 green onion stems, finely sliced
  • 1 cup coriander/cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup mint leaves

Lime cashew crumble

  • 1 cup unsalted roasted cashew nuts , roughly chopped
  • 1½ tsp. lime zest
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • ¾ tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt

Hoisin dressing

  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1½ Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1½ Tbs. canola oil
  • 1½ Tbs. kewpie mayonnaise (or regular mayo)
  • 1 Tbs. hoisin sauce
  • ¾ tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ tsp. Chinese five spice powder

Directions:

  • Active Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 as a meal
  1. Place dry noodles in a bowl and cover with freshly boiled water. Leave for 3-4 minutes or until transparent and softened. Then drain with a colander, rinse under tap water and detangle by hand. Drain noodles thoroughly before use. Set aside to fully cool.
  2. Place crumble ingredients in a bowl and toss (no marinating time needed).
  3. Place dressing ingredients in a jar, then seal with a lid and shake until well combined.
  4. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour over dressing and toss well. Add half of the cashew crumble and toss again.
  5. Transfer to a large salad bowl or individual bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining crumble and serve.

What to serve with glass noodles

By now you know that glass noodles pair well with a lot of ingredients. So consider this your sign to top your noodles with even more flavor! Here are some delicious options to add to your bowl.

1. Pickled or fermented vegetables

These preserved vegetables provide tanginess and complexity to balance your dish’s flavors. Popular choices include Korean kimchi, a spicy fermented cabbage, and pickled radishes.

2. Marinated and grilled meat

Adding chicken, beef or even shrimp provides healthy protein and another level of flavor. Check out the video below for a quick, all-purpose Asian marinade recipe.

3. Fresh herbs

A little freshness goes a long way. Popular Asian herbs like garlic chives, mint, lemongrass and Thai basil add brightness and aroma to your dish.

4. Plant-based proteins

For a vegetarian-friendly option, swap in crispy soy products like tofu or tempeh (fermented soybeans) that delivers on texture and flavor.


For more Asian inspired recipes, click through for:

Italian Meets Korean in This Viral Gochujang Pasta Recipe That’s Creamy, Spicy + Ready in 15 Minutes

Asian Turkey Meatballs Are a Delicious Twist on a Classic Favorite: Easy 30-Minute Recipe

Slow-Cooker Kung Pao Beef: This Easy Recipe Is Sweet, Tangy & Way Cheaper Than Takeout

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