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Edit: I tried the method and this is the result:
New left, old, right. Click for full size

enter image description here enter image description here

What is the correct way to boil noodles? I am talking about the packaged noodles and not half-boiled noodles. I see conflicting information online, and their noodles, irrespective of their method, comes out non sticky. Mine always clumps or sticks together when cooking.

This is how I boil them:

  1. I boil a lot of water in a wide pan with salt (adding oil or not doesn't change anything for me).
  2. I keep the flame on high until the water comes bubbling. Then I put the noodles in it.
  3. I cook them until al dante (a very thin white line is there when I squeeze a strand.)
  4. I immediately drain the water and wash them with cold water.
  5. Then I drizzle some oil on it and mix them well. Up to this point, they are all non sticky and light.

Now the problem starts. A lot of people say that you should never cook the noodles right away and you can also store them in fridge for up to a couple of hours. However, no matter the amount of oil I drizzle, mine starts sticking to each other and so I have to was h them again with cold water to untangle them. Now if I cook them, they tend to again stick when I cook them. They are never separate and always become this mushy kind that they kinda stick and form clumps. I don't understand how mine sticks but the ones I see in Videos are always so fluffy with separate strands.

How do I prevent the noodles from sticking it when cooking?

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  • What kind of noodles? What is the final preparation?
    – moscafj
    Jun 20, 2022 at 14:18
  • @moscafj Dried noodles for hakka noodles /chowmein.
    – 4-K
    Jun 20, 2022 at 14:35
  • Do you just drizzle the oil in, or do you then mix/toss the noodles to coat them with the oil?
    – Sneftel
    Jun 20, 2022 at 15:13
  • @Sneftel Of course I toss them.
    – 4-K
    Jun 21, 2022 at 10:40

3 Answers 3

-3

Follow the steps below to boil Hakka noodles.

  1. First, boil enough water in a large non-stick pan.
  2. Now add the amount of Hakka noodles to boiling water and stir gently for 10 minutes. (You can add some oil and salt if you want.)
  3. Once the Hakka noodles are cooked, remove from heat, drain completely and pour cold water to prevent clumping.

Now Hakka noodles are ready for your meal.

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  • 1
    This sounds more like a recipe for noodle porridge.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 24, 2022 at 15:48
  • I am choosing this as the best method because it is the only answer that's closest to what has worked practically for me. But I think 10 minutes is too long. I only did it for 4-5 minutes.
    – 4-K
    Jul 26, 2022 at 5:55
4

For Asian-style noodles, drop them into boiling water, then switch the heat off. Leave in the water 4 minutes, drain, oil & either serve immediately or move on to stir-frying.
They should be OK to store in the fridge using this method, but stir them as they cool.

If you boil them a lot more starch is released, making them sticky.

Traditionally, fresh ramen noodles are cooked in running water which constantly takes away any extra starch, but you can't really do this for domestic noodles, especially dried.

Update, after many, many comments…
If you can't get this right with dried noodles by the second attempt, use fresh. They are infinitely easier to handle.

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  • Is this a good enough procedure? youtube.com/watch?v=4Q12_scB6AY Starts at 7 minute. The problem is that they don't stick up and until I start cooking them, The longer I keep them cooking, the stronger the clump forms.
    – 4-K
    Jun 22, 2022 at 17:02
  • 2
    They look over-cooked to me. Water has gone soupy. Noodles look starchy. He played with them too much. Leave them alone til they're done. Salt is not needed at all, neither is the lid, oil is not needed until afterwards. They shouldn't need rinsing either. So, no, that's not a method I could recommend. That's a recipe for sticky noodles. I gave you my method above, no video required.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 22, 2022 at 17:09
  • I will try your method and see how well it works. Will update on this.
    – 4-K
    Jun 23, 2022 at 17:19
  • I am sorry. But I don't understand what wrong I did or if you forgot to mention what brand or types of noodles to use. But this is the worse way to boil noodles. With your method, They were only 10% cooked. I am pretty sure no one eats that half cooked noodles anywhere. But this method gave me the clumped noodles. Right now I am eating balls of noodles.
    – 4-K
    Jul 23, 2022 at 13:00
  • 1
    I'm really not sure what point you're making here. If you have the pack instructions, follow them. btw, the ingredients list on that pack is a bit shy of things that would make them less sticky. Have you thought of trying another brand? This really isn't rocket science. You're making a meal of one of the simplest things in the world to cook. They're almost impossible to get wrong. I have nothing more to offer on this, I'm afraid.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 23, 2022 at 16:28
2

Context

The starch granules in the noodles absorb water and swell when heated, a process called 'starch gelatinization'.

Starch gelling curve

Starch granule gelatinization. Taken from "Starch gelatinization and its complexity for analysis" (paywalled).

Starches are made up of of amylose (long chain sugars) packed very densely as crystals. These crystals loosen during gelatinization, and when given sufficient heat and water, completely burst and disperse their amylose. Point 4 represents where the granules have hydrated to point of bursting, and the amylose begins 'leaking' out. Full dispersion is the end goal of using starch thickening methods, like slurries or roux, but very much unwanted for noodles. The temperature at which the peak at 3 is achieved, and overall shape of the graph, varies depending on the amount of available water and type of starch.

The Problem

Ideally for chow mein, the noodles will have starch granules evenly and fully hydrated as well as intact, shown in the range between points 2 and 3 on the graph, leaving no rigidity, grittiness, or powdery texture from under-gelled starch in the final dish. These types of noodles typically rely on wheat protein formed during kneading or added egg protein to maintain their structure, and generally have a high degree of hydration uniformly throughout when fresh.

In contrast, dry noodles have a gradient between points 2 to 4 - under-gelled core with al dente texture, partially dispersed exterior - due to gelatinization being dependent on hydration, and rehydration progressing from the exterior to the core. . Dry pasta noodles benefit from this for sauce adhesion, but the dry hakka noodles you are boiling would be easier to work with if they had the properties of fresh noodles above.

The recipe you provided with the 30-second boil, 2-3 minute soak for dry noodles gave poor results because of continued gelatinization during the stir-fry phase. The reintroduction of heat, as well as water from the vegetables and the noodles themselves, will cause fully cooked noodles to cook further, resulting in amylose dispersion, resulting in loss of structure (mushiness) and increased viscosity (clumping).

The Solutions

@unlisted was completely correct in the instructions provided and assessment of your recipe video, and as you described, the instructions provided resulted in par-cooked noodles after boiling - this is desired, especially in a domestic kitchen with lower stove power output.

For better chow mein noodle cooking technique, refer to these videos:

The first video follows the same process in the recipe you provided, but note that at 02:15, when the noodles are added and tossed, a large amount of steam is released. High-powered commercial wok stoves output heat in the range of 30,000W, allowing the water to very rapidly evaporate and not remain trapped to steam-cook the noodles. In contrast, domestic stoves output heat in the 1,500W-3,000W range, making stir-frying more akin to stir-steaming. To compensate for this par-cook the dried noodles, even less than al dente and just enough to soften them, to achieve the target texture during frying.

Lau's recipe is done on a plug-in induction stove, most of which max out under 2,000 W. Hydration is controlled by steaming the noodles instead of boiling, and only submerging the noodles in hot water for 15 seconds. The noodles are then fried first, and alone, to crisp and prevent added moisture from continuing gelatinization. Only after the noodles have finished becoming crispy are the vegetables and other wet ingredients added. Fresh noodles are used, but dry noodles are also accounted for - boil according to directions, or increase steaming time.

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  • A far more detailed & intelligent approch to the answer than mine. Proveable, testable instructions. Nice one. Mine requires just that you 'know' what to look for as you cook them, without the science… which, it seems, judging by comments underneath, is easy to get wrong ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 24, 2022 at 15:49
  • Nothing wrong with intuition, especially if it gets you consistent desirable results. Your observations for the video were spot-on, and personally I suspect the noodles between the jump cut are different - 08:55 no bounce and matted texture, 12:30 good bounce and enough rigidity to hold small raised loops in the pan. Jul 24, 2022 at 21:02

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