Stir fry glass noodles (mung bean vermicelli) is a comforting dish that's filled with springy, chewy noodles, slightly crunchy veggies, and (usually) a delicious fast-cooking protein. This recipe is my Chinese take on this dish using ingredients I often have in my fridge, but you can substitute with whatever you have on hand!
The Thai version of this dish, Pad Woon Sen, usually includes some fish sauce, scrambled eggs, chilis, and tomatoes, and doesn't use sesame oil like I do in this recipe.
Despite how simple the dish looks to make, one tricky part of stir-frying glass noodles (mung bean vermicelli) is getting them to not clump and stick together once they hit the hot pan. Read below for my best tips for preventing mung bean vermicelli from sticking together while stir-frying!
Note: mung bean vermicelli noodles are different from rice vermicelli noodles, which are more opaque and made from rice flour. mung bean vermicelli is typically made from mung bean and/or potato starch and are transparent in appearance!
How to prepare mung bean vermicelli for stir fry glass noodles in 3 steps
Step 1: Soak the noodles in room temperature or warm (not hot!) water
Soaking the dried mung bean vermicelli in room temperature or warm (not hot or boiling) water ensures that they don't soften too quickly. This also makes sure that they stay springy and chewy even after stir-frying!
These noodles are very delicate and can easily become mushy from hot temperatures.
Step 2: Cut the noodles in half and loosen them
After a few minutes of soaking, the noodles should be more pliable. At this point, use scissors to cut each bundle in half, and loosen them in the water.
Step 3: Keep them submerged in water until you need them (key to prevent clumping!)
Keeping the noodles submerged in water until you need them is THE most important step to prevent the mung bean vermicelli from clumping and sticking while stir-frying! I kept making the mistake of draining my noodles once they were softened enough. You need to keep them wet (submerged in water) to prevent them from sticking once they hit the hot pan!
I have seen other people drain them first and cook them successfully, so I won't claim that this is the only thing that works -- but it's what worked for me. See below for everything else I tested!
How to prevent stir fry glass noodles from clumping and sticking while stir-frying
I spent a whole day testing different ways to prevent mung bean vermicelli from sticking and clumping while stir frying — I experimented with:
- temperature of soaking water (room temp or warm water is best, don’t use boiling)
- amount of time I soaked the noodles (5-10 min is usually enough)
- rinsing the soaked noodles in cold water to remove extra starch (this didn’t do anything to prevent clumping)
- adding oil to the soaked noodles (this also didn’t prevent clumping)
- I even went as far as going out to buy different brands of mung bean vermicelli! (they turned out mostly the same)
and none of the above worked to prevent clumping, EXCEPT one thing:
instead of draining the water from the vermicelli once they’ve softened, keep them submerged in water until you need to use them!
The extra moisture on each noodle strand is what prevents them from clumping and sticking once they hit the hot pan.
Also, don't stir fry for too long once the noodles are in the pan. You just want to stir fry long enough to evenly incorporate the sauce. Stir frying for too long can cause them to be clumpy!
Check out my other popular stir-fry recipes:
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Stir Fry Glass Noodles (mung bean vermicelli)
- 3 oz (2 small bundles) dried mung bean vermicelli (note: size of bundles vary across brands - adjust seasoning accordingly)
- 4 oz thinly sliced marbled beef (or your choice of protein)
- 4 oz cabbage sliced
- ½ large shallot or ¼ onion sliced
- 3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 oz carrots sliced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stalk scallion
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil for cooking
Prepare the vegetables
- Rinse and rehydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms by submerging them in hot water for 20-30 min or until fully rehydrated.3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- Thinly slice the cabbage and shallot (or onion). Julienne the carrot. Mince the garlic. Once mushrooms are rehydrated, discard tough stems and slice thinly.4 oz cabbage, ½ large shallot or ¼ onion, 2 oz carrots, 3-4 cloves of garlic
Prepare the mung bean vermicelli & stir fry sauce
- In a bowl, submerge the dried mung bean vermicelli in room temperature water. Let sit while you prepare the sauce.3 oz (2 small bundles) dried mung bean vermicelli
- For the sauce, mix all the sauce ingredients together.1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1.5 tablespoon oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, dash of white pepper, ¼ teaspoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoon mushroom water or water
- Once vermicelli is pliable (after a few minutes of soaking), use scissors to cut into shorter pieces. Separate the noodles and keep them soaking in water.
Make the stir fry glass noodles
- Heat up a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon neutral oil. When the oil is hot, add the minced garlic and sliced shallots. Stir fry for 1 min or until fragrant.1 tablespoon neutral oil for cooking
- Add the thinly sliced beef and stir fry until there’s no more pink.4 oz thinly sliced marbled beef
- Add the carrots and mushrooms. Stir fry for 1 min to soften the carrots slightly.
- Add the cabbage and continue stir frying until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and give it another mix.¼ teaspoon salt
- Add the mung bean vermicelli straight from the bowl of soaking water to the pan. No need to drain it well, the extra moisture on the noodles prevents them from sticking and clumping up.
- Pour the stir fry sauce over the noodles and stir fry for 1-2 min or until the sauce is evenly incorporated. Don’t stir fry for too long, or the noodles will be at risk of becoming clumpy!
- Garnish with scallions and enjoy!1 stalk scallion