What Are Glass Noodles, Actually?

Too often one finds oneself eating a meal and thinking, “This is tasty, but does it have to be so opaque???” Glass noodles to the rescue! Today we’ll be discussing every aspect of this delicious mainstay that is found in soups, stir-fries, hot pots, spring rolls, and even salads. 

What are glass noodles? 

Glass noodles (aka cellophane noodles) are a type of noodle made most commonly in Asia. Sold fresh or dried, they start out white and then turn translucent when they are cooked—so they look kind of like glass! They can be made thick (like fettuccine) or very thin (like angel hair pasta). 

What are glass noodles made of?

Made in many different Asian countries, there are many different types of glass noodles. The most common variety comes from China and is made of mung bean starch or potato 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 are less common. 

How are glass noodles made?

To make glass noodles, you first prepare a slurry of processed mung bean or other starch and water. Mix that slurry into boiling hot water and stir until it thickens into a translucent paste. Let it cool, then push through a grate or sieve to create noodles. You can then use the noodles fresh or drape them over dowels to dry them. There are varying thicknesses of the noodle, based on the maker’s preferences, or what the particular recipe calls for. 

Are glass noodles gluten free?

Glass noodles are gluten free since the noodles are typically made from sweet potato or mung bean starch. Be sure to check labels, however, as many manufactures may make other products that include gluten, and cross-contamination can occur. It’s like I’ve been saying for years: We need more solo glass noodle factories! 

Are glass noodles low carb?

Though they aren’t completely devoid of carbohydrates, glass noodles are significantly lower in carbs compared to traditional pasta. That’s not saying much since people often eat pasta to “carbo-load,” but give me a break! It’s a necessary comparison! 

How to cook glass noodles?

The easiest way to prepare dried glass noodles is to pour boiling water over them in a heatproof bowl and let them sit for 10 to 15 minutes until softened before draining. If you choose to boil them instead, they will only need a quick 3 to 5 minutes. Once they’re fully cooked, add them to a stew, a stir-fry, or any dish, really, to make it more hearty. Glass noodles themselves don’t really taste like too much, but they soak up flavors like crazy!

Even though the idea of glass noodles may have you imagining a gruesome dinner table of noodle shards and bloody mouths, you can rest easy knowing these are simply delicious noodles with a misleading name for our more literal-minded friends.

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *