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When cooking noodles (ramen or pasta), recipes often call for it to be thrown in boiling water.

I’m often impatient and can’t wait for the water to go from almost boiling (95C) to full boiling (100C) In some cases, it can be a couple of minutes to go to a full boil.

Aside from extra cooking time is there a difference between almost boiling and boiling viz a viz noodles?

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  • What do you mean by “almost boiling”? What temperature?
    – Sneftel
    Feb 2 at 22:28
  • Added temps. I’m assuming the extra time goes the extra few degrees is because of the phase change involved.
    – RoboKaren
    Feb 2 at 22:29
  • Just for kicks, you might find this interesting: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/78226/…
    – moscafj
    Feb 3 at 0:20
  • Also cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/92888/… - it's not a complete duplicate since it's about cold vs hot and you're asking about hot vs slightly hotter, but the advice applies (as long as you ignore the answers that repeat traditional wisdom without examining it critically, sigh).
    – Cascabel
    Feb 3 at 6:33
  • I'd query which we're talking about here, though of course from dried not fresh. 'chinese' (fermented) noodles, or 'italian' pasta. If you read the instructions on packs of each, they are treated quite differently. Noodles, drop in boiling water then either switch off or gentle simmer. Pasta, boil like the devil's after you.
    – unlisted
    Feb 3 at 15:50
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There are two main differences, obviously: five degrees, and no boiling action.

As Cascabel mentioned in a comment, dried pasta will "cook" even in water that's well below boiling temperature. However, a rolling boil serves to constantly stir the contents of the pot, much more than convection in heating water would. Without that mechanical action, pasta is more prone to stick to itself and to the bottom of the pan. So stir a few times.

For fresh pasta, it's more important to use boiling water (and lots of it), because adding the pasta to the water will significantly cool the water below the point where the pasta can actually cook. The sticking concerns apply even more there: fresh pasta has more loose surface starch to cause sticking if you don't stir.

Incidentally, you mentioned in the comments that you assumed it was slow to bring water to a boil "because of the phase change involved". But there is no phase change involved below 100 degrees. In an uncovered pot, it takes a while to push water from a bare simmer to a rolling boil because the evaporation cools the water more quickly as the temperature increases. Covering the pot will significantly decrease the time to come to a full rolling boil (or to return to the boil once you've added the pasta).

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From What's Cooking America:

Noodles added to water before it starts to boil gets a head start on mushiness. Noodles quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to "set" the outside of the noodles, which prevents the noodles from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important; the water temperature drops when you add the noodles, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the noodles to cook properly.

Though the article specifically focuses on pasta rather than all noodles, the reason stated there is also the reason why we always wait for the water to boil before adding in any sort of noodles at my household.

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    This advice is specific to fresh noodles. If you're using dried noodles, like box pasta from the grocery store, then it's a different story.
    – AMtwo
    Feb 3 at 1:55
  • 1
    @AMtwo Actually, this applies to fresh and dried noodles. The link I provided actually focuses on the dried version. Feb 3 at 3:05
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    Unfortunately this isn't really true for dried pasta, despite it being incredibly commonly repeated. You can cook dried pasta starting in cold water, and it doesn't make it mushy at all. See for example seriouseats.com/2010/05/… And while sticking together can be a problem with cold water for some pasta shapes especially if you don't stir, it's not generally an issue with the method. All that's for cold water; 95C is close enough to 100C that even those worries go away.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 3 at 6:38

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