Do You Rinse Noodles With Hot Or Cold Water

Certain types of noodles benefit from a rinse in almost all applications. In her book Japanese Home Cooking, Sonoko Sakai recommends rinsing soba and udon. “Even if I serve it hot,” she told me, “I like to rinse it in cold running water to remove the surface starch and give you a good palate feel thats not slimy.” She will even go so far as to soak her soba in ice water, which firms them up for a chewier texture.

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When I was a child, my parents—bless them, truly—committed numerous “crimes” against pasta, such as putting oil in the boiling water and rinsing it with tap water while it sat in the colander. The pasta became extra slippery when oil was poured into the water, which was ostensibly done to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Rinsing the noodles under a running faucet further ensured that no sauce could stick.

You see, when noodles are rinsed, the starch on their surface is removed, which makes it harder for sauces of any kind to stick to them. We ate the pasta plain in our house, so it didn’t matter (which is a story for another time, or never). However, that rinse would have been extremely ineffective if our intention had been to pair the noodles with a sauce—for example, red pesto, brown butter, cream and peas, or oil sizzling with garlic and anchovies.

This is not to suggest that you should never rinse your noodles. If you’re preparing a dish that will be served cold or room temperature (cold soba, rice noodles, pasta salad, etc.), you should rinse to get toothsome (sorry) individual strands rather than one big gummy clump. Pray tell, what rules in life are so hard and fast?

When to Rinse Cooked Pasta & Noodles

  • Pasta salad: Always rinse pasta after cooking if using it in a cold salad. This serves two purposes. First, it stops the cooking process immediately. Rinsing the pasta in cold water lowers its temperature, which is undesirable when eating it hot but acceptable in this case since it will be served cold. It also keeps the pasta loose for the salad. The starchy coating can cause the pasta to become gummy and clump together if it is not rinsed.
  • Stir-fry: Always rinse your noodles after cooking if you’re using spaghetti or any other Asian-style noodles, such as soba, udon, or rice noodles. If the noodles weren’t coated in starch, they would become sticky and lumpy when stir-fried. The noodles do cool down after being rinsed, but this is okay because they will cook through again in a hot pan.

Do You Rinse Noodles With Hot Or Cold Water

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